The Mystery of the Masked Marauder by Peter S. Cox
Genre: Middle Grade, Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (220 pages)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 3 Stars
Review by: Astilbe
Kidnapping, mystery, and the secret lives of pets. Ever wonder why your dog will eat absolutely anything? Or why he seems to lose his mind whenever a squirrel is within 100 feet? Or question how your cat really feels about you? Nate doesn’t have to wonder anymore. As soon as he moved to a new town, he discovered that he could talk to animals…and they could talk to him. This opens up a whole new world of exploration and adventure – at first. But when neighborhood animals begin disappearing and a masked figure appears outside Nate’s bedroom window, it’s up to Nate and his trusty dog Basset to get to the bottom of the mystery and save the neighborhood. Along the way Nate and Basset encounter some unlikely friends: a gossiping, overweight cat, a lying weasel, and a hyperactive pug named Franklin. Can Nate solve the clues in time?
Pets are good for a lot of things. Can they also be great detectives?
I’ve often wondered what animals would say to us if they could speak English. The idea of having a full conversation with them was what originally drew me to this plot. Mr. Cox clearly spent a lot of time thinking about how a dog or cat would understand the world around us, and his hard work showed. The animal characters sounded exactly like what I’d expect from members of their species.
This book would have benefitted from another round of editing before it was published. There were many sentence fragments and punctuation errors in it. I also had trouble with the run-on sentences. They were often difficult to understand because of how many different ideas were packed into them. I had to read some sentences over again several times to figure out what they meant, and I’m still not entirely sure that I understood all of them.
The dialogue was well written. Every character had his or her own unique voice, and many of them were full of humor. It was entertaining to see how all of the characters interacted with each other. Sometimes they saw the same clue or object in completely contradictory ways. Watching them talk about their points of view made the mystery even more interesting than it would have been otherwise.
There were pacing issues. The plot swung between moving along quickly and suddenly slowing down quite a bit in order to focus on the small details of a particular scene. I would have been content with either pacing style, but including both of them in the same story was distracting. It was often difficult to shift my focus between the quieter scenes and the ones that zoomed along. They both require different mindsets to enjoy, and it was a struggle at times to make that adjustment so regularly.
The case the characters were trying to solve was handled nicely. I liked the fact that the narrator spent so much time building it up before giving away any major clues. That made me curious to see how everything would be tied together and if my first guess about what was going on was actually correct.
Give The Mystery of the Masked Marauder a try if you’re in the mood for something playful.