Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Fourth Stall: By Chris Rylander



Do you need something? Mac can get it for you. It's what he does—he and his best friend and business manager, Vince. Their methods might sometimes run afoul of the law, or at least the school code of conduct, but if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can pay him, Mac is on your side. His office is located in the East Wing boys' bathroom, fourth stall from the high window. And business is booming.

Or at least it was, until one particular Monday. It starts with a third grader in need of protection. And before this ordeal is over, it's going to involve a legendary high school crime boss named Staples, an intramural gambling ring, a graffiti ninja, the nine most dangerous bullies in school, and the first Chicago Cubs World Series game in almost seventy years. And that's just the beginning. Mac and Vince soon realize that the trouble with solving everyone else's problems is that there's no one left to solve yours.


Fans of Raymond Chandler and Mickey Spillane will love this book for their kids. The Fourth Stall takes all the key elements out of these authors’ excellent detective novels and miniaturizes for a younger audience. Instead of having a run down office, readers will find Mac, the stories narrator, in a broken down toilet stall in the boys bathroom. Instead of fixing any situation by solving a murder mystery, Mac fixes the situations for elementary and middle school kids. The similarities go on and on, but that’s exactly the purpose the author, Chris Rylander, wrote The Fourth Stall with.

I particularly enjoyed the end of the book where Rylander sets up a sequel to The Fourth Stall by having “a real dame” walk into the stall to ask for help. But the books target audience will love any number of things, from Vince’s insane sayings, to the exciting action scenes that seems to occur every other chapter, to Mac’s descriptions of characters and situations and the ruminations of cases past and how he met the other members of his crew. But most importantly readers will love the mystery detective style that the book emits.

That said this book is not for everyone. It hits perfectly for its target audience (kids in late elementary and middle school), but readers of an older persuasion might find some of the aspects of the book lacking.

Of course it wasn’t written for this older audience, so because of that my feelings are that this is a great book that does an excellent job of bringing the world of mystery and detective novels to young readers, an audience that I’m sure will love it.

8 out of 10


Publisher: Walden Pond Press

Published: February 8, 2011

Price: $15.99

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