I was sent a review copy of Goldie Vance: The Hotel Whodunit by publisher Hachette Books. Now, during the last two months, I read 13 Jack Reacher novels by accident. Subway rides. I'll probably end up reading all 24 before Spring is over. Don't judge me.
So reading Goldie Vance makes a good respite from the violence, mayhem and murder of adult thrillers. Goldie Vance was originally a comic series from Boom! Studios, created by Hope Larson and Brittney Williams. The Hotel Whodunit is the first Goldie Vance prose novel for middle school readers. Young adult novelist Lillian Rivera makes her middle-grade book debut and artist Elle Power draws two chapters in short comic stories.
16 year-old Goldie Vance lives and works at a modest Florida hotel managed by her dad. Her mother works at the local Mermaid club. She dreams of becoming a master detective with her best friend Cheryl to back her up under the eye hotel detective Walter.
A Hollywood creature feature comes to town and nearly everyone who lives there gets hired to work in the production. Then a diamond-encrusted swim cap goes missing, and Goldie has to solve the theft before her mother gets accused of stealing it.
Like An Updated Nancy Drew
This book is like an updated version of Nancy Drew with a working-class biracial LGBTQ heroine. Goldie is plucky, irrepressible and free of angst. Rivera writes with a light touch and sense of fun that makes it look easy. There's no violence, no sex, no darkness, just puzzles, clues, jokes and a light undertone of class tension. Elle Power's two 8-page comic chapters feel like a callback to the series' origin as a comic book. The story is visual and breezy enough to be a comic book, but the aim here is to encourage kids to read without the aid of too many pictures, after all.
It's refreshing to find a detective novel that kids can actually read.
Goldie Vance: The Hotel Whodunit is published on March 17th and can be preordered.