The Clue of
the Linoleum Lederhosen
by M.T. Anderson
This sequel to Whales on
is another acid-tipped parody of the type of juvenile fiction you may have found
boxed up in your parents' or grandparents' attic: the mystery-adventures full of thrills! and
chills! that your parents, aunts, or uncles read when they were your age. Or rather, in another age
altogether, of which you will sometimes think: "Surely I was never so young!" I remember the type of
story well: Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Tom Swift...sometimes fun to read in a corny way, sometimes
just plain awful, and just occasionally depressing when you get to thinking about how future kids
will regard the books you like to read when they are antique collectibles. Stories about kids who
solve crimes, battle monsters, and invent keen machines...they're all together here in one
spoofed-up package, drowning in their own ridiculousness while somehow generating a really weird
adventure of an entirely new kind.
Katie is sick of being a girl heroine in a series of stories about Horror Hollow. When she isn't
actually fighting off zombies or werewolves, her parents are pulling horror-oriented pranks just to
keep her on her toes. It stopped being fun ages ago, and she wants some time off. So, together with
her friends - Jasper the absurdly dated Technonaut, and Lily the deceptively ordinary girl hero -
Katie retreats to a ski resort where, as it happens, characters from every series of juvie adventure
books have been lured by a phony coupon. A sinister mystery quickly unfolds (sinister, yes, but also
daffy). Katie tries to ignore it; she wants to relax and pretend to be normal. But against her will,
she is drawn to try to solve the matter of the stolen jewels, the kidnapped quintuplets, the
disappearing stuffed animal heads, and the reason so many kid detectives have been brought together
in one place.
Along the way, Katie and her friends encounter some pretty far-out things, to say nothing of a lot
of extremely wacky people. Some of the wackiness actually touches the emotions in an odd, unexpected
way. Most of it just makes you laugh and groan, one after the other or at the same time, as corny
conventions of the kid-detective genre are mercilessly skewered.
I would like to see more of Anderson's "straight" juvenile fiction, like The Game of Sunken Places,
which I liked a lot. However, an occasional excuse to chortle wickedly can also be nice, and for
that I thank him. His other books, if you are interested, include Burger Wuss, Feed, Thirsty, and
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, plus some picture books and short stories. Another
"Thrilling Tale" featuring Katie, Jasper, and Lily is due out in 2008: Jasper Dash and the
Flame-Pits of Delaware.
Doesn't that create a picture.
If you would like to contact Robbie, you may do so here.