Book Review: It Happened on a Train

10767207“Retired private detective and current seventh grader Steve Brixton has a new career: taking out the garbage on Wednesdays for five bucks a week. But it’s hard to leave the old game behind, and on a train trip down the California coast, Steve finds himself pulled back into sleuthing. Soon he’s in over his head in four feet and eleven inches of mystery involving a fleet of priceless automobiles, a deadly assassin (or maybe just a faulty lock on a sauna door), and a secret train car filled with intrigue. Plus there’s a girl involved, which complicates everything. I mean she’s just Steve’s friend. And really, they barely even know each other. It’s not like they’re boyfriend or girlfriend or anything, okay?” (from Goodreads)

This is the third book in the Brixton Brothers series, a.k.a. the acest “kid’s” detective series you’ll ever read by Mac Barnett. I was excited to revisit the humor and cleverness of this series! The case Steve tried to avoid while he was taking out the trash really blew me away (even though it’s only partly solved!). I also loved his trick to SPOILER ALERT! get the one guy to prove he owns the car. Nice foreshadowing for later! And Rick SPOILER ALERT! knits!Train travel actually sounds pretty cool; though I never want to be on top of one, and it could use being a little fancier. This mystery was so complicated, I suspected everyone–except the real villains of course. The solution was actually oddly hilarious but slightly disappointing because Steve barely got to solve anything. (Although the Wooden Hound With Two Tails trick was awesome.) My siblings tell me that this case is closely connected to the next one, so maybe that will be good. 😉 Not recommended for younger readers because of some disrespect of adults and intense action including SPOILER ALERT! accidental kidnapping, and and SPOILER ALERT! enter “girlfriends”! (Barely.) Although, Dana’s has him reading some pretty weird wizard books. There were two pictures from books they were reading where the women were dressed immodestly.

Best quote: The thin man chuckled. “Cyrus. They’re just children. They could hardly be car thieves–they don’t even know how to drive.” “Actually, I do,” said Steve. The man looked surprised. “Well, anyway, I’m sure they wouldn’t steal a car.” Actually, Steve had, technically. Twice. Once with Dana and once without. But it seemed better to leave that out right now.

Altogether, while this was a fun installment, it wasn’t the best in the series. We’ll see how the next one is. 😉


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