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Shirley Link #1

Shirley Link and the Safe Case

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“I put on my kindest face for the poor man. I even smile a little. Marie slashes her fingers across her neck, telling me to stop with the fake grin. She must think I look creepy again. I keep smiling, though. I need to practice. I have a problem with people thinking I’m mean.”

And so it goes, for Shirley Link. Brilliant, brazen and still a whole year away from her driver's permit. Sure, she’s only 14 years old and has homework to do, but she’ll put it aside for the right mystery!

Shirley Link's kickoff adventure pits her against a thief who's stolen thirty thousand dollars from her school's safe. Usually, she'd wrap that kind of case up before American Idol. But there's one intriguing, frustrating detail.The half-ton safe disappeared too!

Shirley must find the culprit quickly, or else her beloved principal, Mr. Reese, will lose his job. As she digs deeper, Mr. Reese looks more and more guilty. Will Shirley save him, or get him tossed in jail?

"This is how it is to be Shirley Link, the best detective in the world, if I do say so myself. I can spot a lie like most people spot a zit. I see connections where they hide best. And I get in trouble every time I try to tell people what I do with my free time. Only a handful know about my talent. I prefer to keep it that way." - Shirley Link

102 pages, Paperback

First published July 2, 2012

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About the author

Ben Zackheim

46 books95 followers
Sign up for Ben's newsletter and enjoy discounts, perks and peeks at his upcoming releases at http://www.benzackheim.com

Ben's storytelling adventures started as a Production Assistant on the set of the film, A River Runs Throught It. After forgetting to bring the crew's walkie talkies, losing Robert Redford's jacket and asking Brad Pitt if he was related to Paul Newman (in front of Paul Newman) he decided that film production didn't "speak" to him. Since no one else on the set would speak to him either he knew he needed to find work that required minimal human contact.

Writing. That did the trick.

His three series, Shirley Link, The Camelot Kids and Relics appeal to young and old alike. Emily Neuburger of Parents.com says, "[Shirley Link] is an amazing series!" and Julie Ann Grasso (author of the Adventure of Caramel Cardamom books) says The Camelot Kids will "leave you clutching onto your Kindle." Stephen King says, "I'm not providing blurbs at this time," but Ben is chipping away at King's resolve.

Ben has taken up the writerly life in the Forbidden Forest at 42.5098° N, 72.6995° W.

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5 stars
270 (41%)
4 stars
168 (25%)
3 stars
121 (18%)
2 stars
51 (7%)
1 star
41 (6%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 60 reviews
Profile Image for Rebecca Douglass.
Author 25 books180 followers
February 4, 2014

I liked Shirley from the moment she turned in her "What I did with my summer vacation" paper and got a D for writing fiction (okay, she was telling the truth, but still. . . ). She's an insightful narrator with a touch of cynicism and just enough hubris to make it clear she's human. She reveals herself well in her narration, and describes other characters, inside and out, with a few well-chosen words. An example I liked was when she notes that the principal looks especially harried because "his eyeglasses sit on his nose like they want to escape his face."

One quibble: Shirley herself is 14 (according to the blurb), and although the opening line speaks of her 8th grade English class, she apparently attends a high school. At 14 my sons started 9th grade (which unlike 8th is commonly in a high school), so I did wonder if this was an error.

The story is well-written and fast-paced, the language is imaginative, and the denouement is reasonably surprising. A dry sense of humor kept me smiling, and I think this will work very well for the kids, too.

My biggest issue is that the book is just too short! I'm just starting the next book, but it, too, clocks in about 10,000 words. Since the writing style of the books is firmly middle-grade (and an 8th-grade protagonist fits that very well, along with the minimal violence and clean relationships), that seems pretty short--more novella than novel. The writing should match kids at a pretty high reading level, so I hope that future books in the series are longer and more complex to challenge them more. Though Mr. Zackheim might be onto something, with some kids these days being too used to tweets to have patience for a longer story. Or to put it in a more positive light, sometimes kids just want a fun quick read that doesn't talk down to them (a lot like the adults). Shirley Link can provide just that.

Highly recommended for mystery fans of all ages from 9 or so up.
Profile Image for Jemima Pett.
Author 30 books327 followers
July 26, 2013
Move over Sam Spade, there’s a new detective in town! Most reviewers suggest she’s Veronica Mars for grade-schoolers, but since I don’t know Veronica Mars I bow to their superiority and just say Shirley Link rocks!

Some years ago there was a brilliant TV series called Taken, nothing to do with the relatively recent film of the same name. It’s narrated by a girl, and starts with the Roswell Incident, I think. As soon as I started reading Shirley Link I had that same voice in my head – clever, cool and great fun. Lets you know what was happening without being over-cocky. Confidence-inspiring.

In Shirley Link and the Safe Case, Shirley introduces us to her friends, Marie and Wylie, her family (archaelogist dad, cop mom) and a number of people, both kids and staff, at school. Shirley has Sherlock Holmes’ ability to see a situation and deduce what caused it. She just doesn’t push it in your face like Mr Holmes does. I understood the key to what happened to the safe that was stolen from the principal’s office, I just didn’t see the solution. Almost, but not quite. I’d make a lousy detective. Maybe that’s why I love the genre.

Shirley Link and the Safe Case is the first of what I hope is a long series. It’s a quick read – partly because the writing is chirpy and interesting and you don’t want to put it down, but also because it isn’t very long. I think the sequels are slightly longer. I’m looking forward to reading the next one, and I’d go so far as to put this in the top three of my favourite reads this summer. Maybe top two. Definitely five stars!
Profile Image for Lily (Night Owl Book Cafe).
555 reviews464 followers
February 16, 2015
I got this book for free from the author in exchange of an honest review.

Shirley Link and the safe case was an adorable quick read. A middle school mystery novel that was quite entertaining. Shirley Link is a brilliant 14 year old girl was an amazing ability to notice all the little details and based on slight changes and perspective she can draw conclusions. No wonder she is so good at solving mysteries and is often sought after by others in need of help.

In her first book Shirley's adventure kicks off when she is asked by the school's principal to help him find the thief who stole a half-ton safe with thousands of dollars from school. With the principals job on the line, Shirley and her abilities are the perfect match compared to the authorities who cannot see past him being guilty.

As Shirley and her friends set out to find the thief who managed to take the safe with them along with the thousands of dollars, her beloved principal looks more and more guilty.

Shirley was an interesting brazen character with a lot going for her, as she is fearless and smart. Growing up I loved reading mysteries and it is always welcoming to see a new character grow for the middle-grade readers especially one so unique and fun.

A fast paced plot that was easy to follow with an exciting mystery that keeps your attention. The Shirley Link series, is a great read for children, teens and anyone who enjoys a good middle-grade read.
Profile Image for Devi Nair.
458 reviews37 followers
January 26, 2015
Check out the complete review at Shirley Link and the Safe Case (Shirley Link, #1) > Review

This is one of the cutest books I have read. Shirley Link is an instantly likable kid detective, who is very intelligent but a very normal teenager. She has this adorable couple of friends, Marie and Wylie, who like each other but do not accept it. Shirley, however, has her head strong on her shoulders, at least that is what she thinks.

There is absolutely nothing I did not like about this book. It is a really short book and would do wonders with kids. The concept is captivating and story is crisp without any scope of mind wandering. I would love to read more of Shirley and her friends. They are definitely here to stay.
Profile Image for C.P. Cabaniss.
Author 4 books95 followers
March 31, 2015
This was a fairly fun middle grade book about a 14 year old Sherlock Holmes type character. Her dad is an archaeologist and he'd mother a cop, so she's learned some skills of the trade from both. In this story she is investigating the theft of a rather large sum of money from the principal's office.
I didn't find Shirley to be all that great of a character personally. Maybe it's just that I'm older than the intended audience, but she was too full of herself. Her friends were fun and I liked how they tagged along for ger adventures. The school janitor Mike was creepy. Seriously, I don't think they would just let him hang out around all these kids, asking them to come chat with him in dark corners. Seems a bit strange to me. Overall it was an ok read.
Profile Image for Tyler Scott Hess.
Author 15 books100 followers
September 2, 2013
As a fellow writer, I have followed Ben's twitter and blog for several months, but just now got to the point in my reading list to get to the first book in his Shirley Link series. Although the book is rather short, as it is intended for middle school aged children, the characters are well developed and and the main character is set to be the next Sherlock Holmes. Having read a bit of the Holmes series as well, her sleuthing is very similar, if not quite as advanced. I would highly recommend this book for middle school readers (or even adults like me who enjoy a fun story).
Profile Image for M.G. King.
Author 5 books49 followers
December 2, 2013
Confident, quick-witted Shirley Link is a compelling character in a chapter book that younger tweens will love. The storyline and pacing are similar to the classic Encyclopedia Brown. I see great success for the Shirley Link series with Zackheim's quick pacing, spot-on dialogue, and well-developed cast of characters.
Profile Image for Noe.
Author 75 books26 followers
June 6, 2015
This is a fun short story for elementary school aged kids, and though it is for children, the way the crime was done was very imaginitive - worthy of Holmes or Poirot. If you have children and would like for them to read something that isn't about witches or vampires but still with a bit of adventure, check this one out.
Profile Image for Angela Alverson.
4 reviews1 follower
July 5, 2012
smart and cute, just like the guy who wrote it and the lady who did the cover.
Profile Image for Leandro Dutra.
Author 4 books46 followers
June 5, 2014
Short & entertaining. For those not yet quite up to father Brown or Lord Peter Death Wimsey.
Profile Image for Ted Tayler.
Author 61 books250 followers
September 18, 2015
"End of term report: Well written"

A very enjoyable read for children. A touch of mystery, laced with humour and recognisable characters makes for a good mix.
Profile Image for Nicholas Pozo.
Author 1 book
July 27, 2014
A fun, straight-into-the-case detective story. Zackheim has a knack for fun, peppery dialogue, and for a book of this length is able to advance the story along at a cracking pace without the reader feeling rushed. As a detective novel for younger readers Shirley Link hits all the right buttons. The clues and suspects are clearly presented, and Zacheim never lets the amount of information become too much to process before he reveals the culprit.

Shirley Link is almost perfectly constructed. Though the final reveal does involve one piece of information that wasn't previously available to the reader, it's still possible to take a stab at solving the crime (which Zackheim goes out of his way to encourage the reader to do) before the detective herself points the finger.

And though there are some scenes which feel like they might have worked better if previously foreshadowed, for a novel of this length, it still all fits together nicely without the reader ever feeling like they're being cheated.

The characters are easily likeable, nobody feels as though they lack depth or motive. Although it would have been nice to hear more about their histories, Zackheim wisely avoids going into too much depth where just a few sentences will suffice for now. In so doing he manages to keep the story firmly routed in the clue gathering and deduction that is vital for a starter-mystery.

A short, easily readable mystery that also serves as a fun introduction to the characters in the Shirley Link universe. Very easy to recommend.
Profile Image for Kara.
102 reviews11 followers
February 20, 2013
What a fun detective story! When teenage detective Shirley Link grows up, I imagine her matching wits with the likes of Sherlock Holmes. Shirley Link and the Safe Case introduces the reader to this clever girl (and her "assistants"/friends) by showing off her deductive reasoning skills while solving the case of a safe missing from the principal's office.

I can't wait to share the story with my younger nephews and cousins (I think my 9 year old nephew will love the mystery and be excited to use the "Clues/Notes" pages available at the end of the book), but as an adult, I appreciated the incredible detail Ben Zackheim used in the story (I'd love to see Shirley's school library-sounds like paradise to me! and I got a kick out of Shirley's use of uscourts.gov, a website I often use at work).

I will happily read the next book (Shirley Link and the Hot Comic - Avengers!!) and share the adventures with loved ones as well.
Profile Image for Staci.
84 reviews18 followers
September 5, 2012
My sons both loved this book and the fact that they got to solce the case with clues. The reading level was perfect for my 8 year old son who is in 3rd grade and he was done in a day! He took it with him to school to read during study time and his teacher was intrigued by it as well! Would have been a 5 star rating but had a few typing errors and a bit too short.

My rating system is as follows:

5 stars - Excellent, Worth Every Penny, Made It Into My Personal Library!

4 stars - Great book, but not a classic. May have mild profanity.

3 stars - Good overall, may contain profanity or suggestive themes.

2 stars - Would not recommend based on the criteria found in my review.

1 star - Difficult to read, hard to finish, Wouldn't recommend purchasing or reading.

In accordance with the new FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, you should assume that every book I review was provided to me by the publisher, media group or the author for free and no financial payments were received, unless specified otherwise.
Profile Image for Chrissy.
819 reviews
January 2, 2013
SHIRLEY LINK AND THE SAFE CASE was a totally cute and fun middle grade novel about a girl with an uncanny ability to notice the details around her and draw conclusions based on her perception, all of which make her a fabulous detective. The school principal enlists Shirley to solve the latest crime, which involves the theft of a safe that held money intended for the expansion of the school library. Shirley puts her skills to the test, uncovering the clues she needs to locate the safe and stop the criminal from getting away with the school's money -- just another task in a day in the life of a junior high school student!

I think this novel will appeal to the younger tween crowd, likely either boys or girls based on the subject matter, and it's a quick enough read for those with a shorter attention span. This was cute enough that I'll probably read the next in the series, just to see what shenanigans Shirley encounters next!
Profile Image for Julie Grasso.
Author 19 books301 followers
June 19, 2013
Well, to preface this review I must tell you of my absolute love of the TV series Veronica Mars, so when I found this book I was absolutely delighted. Shirley is the middle grade equivalent. She is smart, witty and has awesome observation skills, but of course is completely and utterly misunderstood by most of her teachers. Her friends totally get her though and I loved the way the author portrayed Shirley and her friends accepting each others quirks and working to their strengths.

The mystery was fast paced, funny and very cleverly done, but I can't go any further without offering spoilers. I liked Shirley from the get go, along with her crazy cop mum and eccentric dad.

This was a quick clean read, with a dash of unrequited love and a smidgen of mild violence. Just another great example of a very cool middle grade mystery which I think reluctant and avid readers would really enjoy. I recommend if for children aged 10+
Profile Image for S.W..
Author 12 books152 followers
July 13, 2016
In a Nutshell | Shirley Link is a Miss Marple of the future, but perhaps not so old and stodgy. Although she has such great skills, I like that she remains grounded and kind.

Shirley Link is a really good book. Simple as that. It's written with such a good sense of humour and Shirley herself is absolutely likable, clever, and friendly. She seems to be making quite a name for herself in her hometown as mystery solver, a future Miss Marple or Jessica Fletcher, perhaps. Cue the start of a series.

Along with her endearing personality, Shirley has an incredible eye for detail that is her strongest weapon. After all, it's the detail that always catches the crooks. Reading Shirley was easy. I felt the style flowed and the mystery was revealed at a good pace.

Visit me at www.swlothian to see more of my reviews.
Profile Image for Evie.
194 reviews
February 18, 2013
This book was so cleverly adorable! I exhausted Nancy Drew as a kid and have loved Sherlock Holmes from the time I was thirteen so when I spotted this book and read the description on Amazon, I simply had to buy it. I'm so glad I did too! This book was fun, funny, and smart (You've gotta love smart books ;)) And Shirley Link was a fantastic character that I very much enjoyed reading. I laughed out loud several times in this book. the mystery was engaging and clever, not overly apparent but suitable for the young mystery lover in your life as well as the old ;)
My only complaint was that it wasn't longer! :D
A terribly enjoyable read that I would highly recommend. I'll definitely be reading Shirley's other adventures!
Profile Image for H.D..
23 reviews9 followers
March 1, 2013
This is a great series of books. This one wasn't very
predictable. There was one problem. The first of the book
Wylie sat in his 8th grade class? Later it mentioned it
was a High School Library. I have never known 8th grade
to be in a High School unless it is a very, very small town.
Also, the age group that this appeals to is the elementary
age but the subject matter is geared more towards High school.
For the older elementary it will require more substance in the
body...more personality.
The characters are great, the stories are good, the mystery and
suspense are intriguing. Maybe a little more elaboration on the
characters thoughts, attitudes, etc. and more info on the suspects
and the three main character's parents.
There is good humor in the stories as well.
Profile Image for Stella.
86 reviews
March 25, 2016
I would've adored this as a kid. I loved stories that made me think, and especially when they had games at the end as this has the riddles. My sister and I competed to see who would solve more and it was so much fun! (I won ofc). I would definately give this to my children if I had any.
I think it's quite simmilar to the Kika Superbruja, detective series I read as a kid, though I'm not sure those have ever been translated to English but I know they come in Spanish, German and Croatian for sure. Those also had educational stuff at the end and I absolutely loved those.
Profile Image for Yvonne.
273 reviews35 followers
September 15, 2012
I'm always on the lookout for good middle-grade reads that can be read in less than a couple of hours and this is one. I think that the book would appeal to both boys and girls as they go along with Shirley Link and her friends as Shirley solves this mystery. Large text and a lot of white space make it a lot quicker (and easier) to read than its 83-pages would initially lead you to believe.

Even though my grandchildren are ages 8 through 11, they still enjoy having a bedtime story read to them and I think they will love listening to this book as much as I will enjoy reading it to them.

I received this book from GoodReads as First Reads giveaway.
Profile Image for Violet.
271 reviews16 followers
January 12, 2016
I got this book for free through BookBub and Kobo.
It was an okay story, the book was only 49 pages long so to me the story felt rushed. You aren't given much time to relate to the characters or really get into the story, it goes by too fast.
Shirley was like a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. Like Sherlock she tells people stuff like 'you had a flat tire on your way to work today', and like Poirot once she solved the case she revealed who the culprit was in front of a crowd (which the culprit was a part of of course).
((Btw, I am proud to say that I guessed who did it and how before Shirley revealed it. Ha!))
Profile Image for Bonnie Gleckler Clark.
698 reviews15 followers
June 15, 2014
I am always on the lookout for good reads for both of my granddaughters. I came across "Shirley Link and the safe case" by Ben Zackheim just a few days ago. I would never get them a book by an author they've never read before unless I read it first myself. The Shirley Link series is definitely a keeper. The next one on my list to read is "Shirley link and the hot comic." Not only will you like Shirley but you will like her friends Wiley and Marie. And of course the administrative staff at her school. For all the right reasons I give this young readers book 5 stars!!!
Profile Image for Yue.
2,135 reviews30 followers
November 6, 2015
The kind of book I enjoyed (and still do) when I was a teen. Shirley is a smart girl, kind of Nancy Drew, who likes to solve mysteries. She has 2 sidekicks, her best friends, who share her adventures. The book is short and nice. The crime is not that hard, and the criminal is quickly caught, which I think fits perfectly for a younger target. If I have the chance, I will not doubt to read the following books in the series.
Profile Image for Roshan.
172 reviews71 followers
January 9, 2017
For a target audience of very young children this book can be a good introduction to reading. The language is fairly simple and the main character quite realistic in behavior.. The story is not too long and can be read even by an 8 year old over a weekend.
Profile Image for Grace.
332 reviews
September 5, 2012
I loved Shirley...very unique girl, a miniture Sherlock Holmes. This is a quick read for a young adult or teen. I've put it on my son's TBR list (he's only 4, so I have to wait a year or so).
6 reviews1 follower
July 18, 2014


This was a good book. It was short and abruptly ended, that was why this is not a 5 star book. Besides that I enjoyed it.
7 reviews1 follower
October 15, 2014
Mystery Girl

This book is truly worth 5 stars. Shirley Link is the modern Nancy Drew! Even though she's only in eighth grade she is able to solve the problem. ( :
Profile Image for Rachel Svendsen.
312 reviews67 followers
January 30, 2015
This was surprisingly cute. It was very short kids mystery not deep or hard to figure out, think "Scooby Doo". Definitely meant for younger kids but well written.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 60 reviews

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