By Andreas Steinhofel
Chicken House, $16.99, 168 pages

Rico Doretti is a self-identified child proddity – it’s like a prodigy except that his brain takes longer to think things through. He notices details is in the midst of a neighborhood mystery when he meets Oscar, an actual child prodigy who wears a helmet at all times in case of catastrophe. Each boy is interested in the recent spate of kidnappings in the area by the mysterious Mr. 2000. When Oscar’s investigation turns too real, it is up to Rico to find the things that others have missed in order to save his new friend.

The Spaghetti Detectives starts out with a highly relatable and likeable character in Rico. His commentary and asides throughout the book are some of the most enjoyable in children’s literature and it’s delightful to see him accept himself with his challenges. Oscar, too, is a funny and endearing oddball. What’s puzzling in the story is that all the adults seem to be fine with young children being left unsupervised for days (especially with a serial kidnapper in the area). The book, while written for children, does contain a lot of content that may be too mature for younger kids (including suicide, kidnapping, and alcoholism).

Reviewed by Barbara Cothern