by Michele Martin Bossley
Orca Book Publishers, 2009
$9.95, 103 pp, ages 10 – 14
Author Michele Martin Bossley, who was born in Massachusetts but grew up in Calgary, Alberta, is the author of eighteen novels for young readers, ten of which have been chosen by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre for the “Our Choice” list. Fraud Squad is appropriate for middle-school children of either gender who are reading below grade level.
I found that this novel reminded me very much of the books by the British author, Enid Blyton. Her serial novels, The Famous Five and The Secret Seven, like The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series, deal with young people solving mysteries. Fraud Squad is of this genre with a “gosh, golly,” innocent feel which is reminiscent of these books.
The main characters are Trevor, Nick and Robyn, who attend a junior high school in Drumheller, Alberta. Mysterious things begin to happen when the three friends visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum. They are on a class field trip to see the dinosaur displays. We learn much about dinosaurs, fossils and paleontology digs as the story unfolds, but always in a simple language that is easy to understand. When fossils are discovered at a new dig, what does a teacher have to do with it, and why are there fossils in his filing cabinet? With a great deal of snooping, a spooky nighttime surveillance of the dig site, and a disturbing find in the school basement, the three friends try to discover what is really happening. During this time, Robyn must deal with problems caused by rumours. Through another character, the hardship of constantly changing schools is also explored. Despite these underlying issues that young people must often deal with, Fraud Squad is a “who-done-it” that will appeal to students who like mysteries.
This review is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s January 2010 issue.