Book: Coop Knows the Scoop (2020)
Author: Taryn Souders
Genre: MG, Mystery/Whodunit
Rating: 4 stars
Basic plot: When the local playground gets a make-over, the workers dig up a skeleton. Pretty exciting stuff for the sleepy town of Windy Bottom, Georgia. Coop and his friends are particularly interested in using their detective brains to discover what actually happened. Of course, it’s not easy when your nemesis—i.e. the class bully—is on your case. But then Coop discovers that the murder victim just might be somebody closer to him than he realized.
1) Coop’s mom owns a bookstore in their small town. Can I just say how much I love this? (Actually, who doesn’t love a good book store setting!)
2) This book starts off with immediate action and interest with the digging up of the skeleton. And then the details roll in—like the fact that the skeleton is wearing a dress—that keeps us wanting to read more.
3) I love Coop’s Gramps. “Gramps had a third rule: You can’t leave a bad situation without finding two good things about it. Two things to be thankful for.” He isn’t perfect (you’ll find that out in the book), but he has so much wisdom. I love it when grandfathers like Gramps are in books!
4) I enjoyed Coop’s friends, the twins named Liberty and Justice. The three kids make a good team. And they get into plenty of mischief, including [*slight SPOILER] a break-in to the funeral parlour. [End Spoiler]
5) There are some nice upping-the-ante moments. Especially with regards to Coop’s nemesis, Beau (the bully). There’s a moment in the story when the boys discuss their mutual agreement to not get along. I love Coop’s interior monologue at this point: “That was the first thing we’d ever agreed on in our lives.”
6) I did like the character, Tick, who is a father-figure for Coop. He’s also a police officer, so things get a little awkward when Coop starts breaking a few laws.
7) This book is a whodunit. There is a nice little reference to the Hardy Boys (although, personally, I think that could have been a stronger thread in the book). Coop and his friends are trying to find a murderer. So, yeah, one of the characters in the story IS indeed a murderer. I will say that I was kept guessing… which is good for a murder-mystery. (I did figure it out just slightly before the kids do in the book.)
WHAT’S NOT COOL…
1) The one thing that bothered me—and I have seen this in a lot of books lately—is the fact that there are a lot of unique names in the book. Coop is fine (his full name is Cooper) since he’s the protagonist. And Beau’s fine, since that’s a real name. But then there were Liberty and Justice, the twins. I couldn’t remember who was the girl and who was the boy. This is not particularly helpful to the reader, especially when it takes you out of the book.
My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – I can’t think of many middle-grade books that deal with murder (like a real murder). This book actually does, which makes it a little on the edgy side of MG. I would recommend it for older kids who like mysteries… and are ready for something beyond your Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew variety. These are the kids who will one day devour the likes of books by Agatha Christie, et al.
**Note: I received a free copy of this title from the people at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday…