cover image Fowl Play

Fowl Play

Kristin O’Donnell Tubb. HarperCollins/Tegen, $18.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-327403-7

Contemporary Charleston, S.C., provides the backdrop for this cunning mystery by Tubb (Luna Howls at the Moon), in which a grieving tween’s often laugh-aloud misadventures in detective work bring her estranged family closer together. Chloe Alvarez is left reeling by her beloved uncle Will’s sudden death from a genetic disease. Inheriting his female African gray parrot, named Charlie, provides welcome distraction and joy, especially as Chloe has been harboring feelings of anger and betrayal toward Uncle Will, who shut her out of his life as his health was failing. But when Charlie begins spouting phrases such as “it was murder,” “homicide detective,” and “cyanide!” Chloe uses the skills she learned from her Grammy’s true crime podcasts to initiate a murder investigation. A growing suspect list soon includes her wealthy uncle Frank, Will’s knife-wielding barista ex-girlfriend, and whomever drives the mysterious yellow Prius that keeps following Chloe around town. Throughout, Chloe processes her grief by recording video journals about her memories of Uncle Will and expressing herself via painting. Typical genre tropes are subverted in delightful ways; rather than solve this harrowing mystery alone, Chloe leans on her family (and Charlie), who tirelessly support her sleuthing antics. Characters are intersectionally diverse. Ages 8–12. Agent: Josh Adams, Adams Literary. (July)