Book review: Mean Streets by Graham Marks

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Amateur detective Trey MacIntyre doesn’t just look for trouble...he can’t rest easy until he’s plum in the middle of it!

If you thought Graham Marks’ schoolboy super sleuth had experienced enough adventure to last him a lifetime in his first all-action outing in I Spy, think again.

The all-American hot-shot is back – and this time he’s messing with the Mafia, hoodwinking the hoodlums and chasing through the chilly streets of 1920s Chicago.

Quick-thinking, trouble-shooting Trey is the creation of top children’s author Marks who can’t put a foot wrong when it comes to spellbinding children’s stories.

And Trey is one of his most imaginative heroes yet; a likeable, courageous, ambitious and determined investigator who adds lashings of fun to his dangerous escapades.

In Mean Streets, we find him holidaying at his grandfather’s Circle M ranch in a quiet backwater of Kansas.

It’s all a bit too quiet for Trey so he can’t help but get excited when he spots a very classy Buick limo and its three pin-stripe suited occupants parked up at the roadside.

They’re not the friendly sort of folk that you usually find in these parts and when one of the men, a sleazy guy with a straggle of yellow teeth, gives Trey a death threat, his heart beats like a jackrabbit’s back leg.

Never one to turn his back on a mystery, Trey wants to know what they’re up to because, like his hero detective Trent ‘Pistol’ Gripp from Black Ace magazine, the need to find answers is in his blood.

Trey’s enquiries lead him to the neighbouring T-Bone ranch owned by Bowyer Dunne, a man known locally as ‘a low-down, no-good, snake-in-the-grass’.

Undeterred, Trey recklessly gatecrashes a party there and takes a series of photographs on his new Kodak camera.

A few days later, he’s back at school in Chicago and the case appears to be closed - until he spots one of the roadside mobsters dropping off a boy at his school.

It’s the start of a thrilling adventure that will see Trey caught up in a kidnapping, witnessing a shoot-out, teaming up with private investigator Fred Pisbo and his precocious daughter Velma and meddling in Mafia politics.

Nothing has prepared him for the perils that lie ahead.

Mean Streets is the perfect balance between gripping action, suspense and good-old fashioned detective work – superb reading for girls and boys aged nine and over.

(Usborne, paperback, £5.99)