Just the thing to read when your brain needs a vacation. Which is not to say that it’s total brain candy – there’s actually a nicely puzzling mystery and some substance to the characters – but it’s the kind of book that pulls you into another world for some fun.
Since Lulu doesn’t want to play the girl detective, it’s understandable when it takes her a while to piece together the clues (I guessed a few things before she did, but not enough to make it annoying), but along the way she actually kind of maybe starts to enjoy the whole sleuthing business. The story deals nicely with the whole “why not just go to the police/tell an adult” question (although her parents are very conveniently absent just when she needs to do something like spend the night in a dumpster).
The characters are a whole lot of fun, and I particularly liked Lulu’s believably gradual transformation into someone who occasionally thinks before she speaks. There’s some light romance but it never takes over the mystery storyline, or from Lulu herself as the star of the show. Throw in some dry humor, and I’m a happy reader.
I’d recommend it for middle school readers on up – there’s a little underage drinking and maybe the occasional swear, but otherwise nothing objectionable for younger readers. And I’ll be looking for the sequel next time I need something funny and absorbing.