HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Case of the Felon’s Fiddle: A McGurk Mystery
Author: Edmund Wallace (E. W.) Hildick
Illustrator: Lisl Weil
Publisher: Atheneum, republished 1983
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 9-12
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Hildick, Edmund Wallace (E. W.). The Case of the Felon’s Fiddle: A McGurk Mystery (published in 1982 by Macmillan Publishing Company, a division of Macmillan Inc., 866 Third Ave., New York City, NY 10022; republished in 1983 by Weekly Reader Books, a trademark of Field Publications, 4343 Equity Dr., Columbus, OH 43228). Joey Rockaway, who narrates the story, is an “officer,” along with Wanda Grieg, Brains Bellingham, and Willie Sandowsky, in a detective organization run by Jack P. McGurk, who patterns himself after Sherlock Holmes. All five are school children. When McGurk is sick, his mother brings home an old violin which she purchased at the Salvation Army Thrift Shop so that McGurk can play it as Sherlock did. However, inside the violin, they find a folded note that looks something like a treasure map.
The kids learn from Captain Thomas at the Salvation Army that the violin had previously belonged to a petty thief named Al “Fiddler” Knight whose last crime was a jewelry robbery in Manhattan five years before when he stole $250.000.00 worth of uncut gems. Al was caught and sent to jail where he had recently died at the age of 55, but the gems were never recovered. Is the note a clue to where the loot was hidden? If so, how can McGurk and company know where to look? And will they ever locate anything or not?
I have always enjoyed a good mystery, even those written for young people. A couple of common euphemisms (i.e., gee and gosh) occur, along with a few references to smoking (though one plays an important part in the action), but the plot, while told fairly simply, will easily keep the reader’s attention. Author E. W. Hildick is a “Recognized Author of the Mystery Writers of America.” The Case of the Felon’s Fiddle is one of a series of “McGurk Mysteries.” The book lists thirteen more, beginning with The Nose Knows.