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The Big Splash

(Big Splash #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  432 ratings  ·  113 reviews
Snappy, pulp-inspired noir set in the mean hallways of middle school, from an exciting debut author.
The treacherous, hormone-soaked hallways of Franklin Middle School are the setting for this sharp, funny noir novel about tough guys and even tougher girls. “The Frank” is in the clutches of a crime syndicate run by seventh-grader Vinny “Mr. Biggs” Biggio, who deals in fo
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 1st 2008 by Harry N. Abrams
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Average rating 3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  432 ratings  ·  113 reviews

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Mar 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure about the cover, so I put it on hold. While it was sitting in my drawer, waiting to be read, I had a kid ask for a funny mystery. He needed to read a certain number of pages by the end of the week. I saw this on the new book shelf and told him I hadn't read it, but it looked good, and he should try it. He grabbed the book and completely stopped looking.
Less than a week later (note that he'd probably finished the requirement by now), he came back to me, book in hand, and asked what
May 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I adore this book. Clever from beginning to end. First, the idea: a noir detective story, a la "The Big Sleep," set in middle school. And the world these characters inhabit is complete: the detective, the case to solve, the kingpin, his lackies, the swell girl--even the neighborhood "bar" where they can all hang out (I won't ruin what it actually is, because it's one of the many ingenious touches throughout this ingenious book).

Not only is the story flat-out funny and yet also sweet when it com
Apr 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In this book "The Big Splash" by Jack D. Ferailolo talks about the main character who is an average boy in middle school named Matt. He is on a mission to find out who was the person that put his fried, Nikki Finnegan in something called the "Outs". The Outs is something pretty difficult to explain but you'll start recognizing what it is once you go through the story. But to sum it up in a nutshell, it is basically when someone sets a trap like for example a water balloon, and then throws it bel ...more
Dylan Pirie
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The book The Big Splash by Jack D. Ferraiolo is a fiction mystery book. This book is about Matt who is the school detective which students from the school hire with cases and mysteries to solve ,Vinny who operates a school business that forges hall passes and puts kids into the outs and Nicole Finnegan. The outs is a group of students that nobody wants to hang out with or talk with. Students get put into the outs usually by getting sprayed with a water gun in the crotch area and then people thin ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Sarah Bean the Green Bean Teen Queen for

"The Frank" may seem like a typical middle school, but it's actually run by Vinny Biggs and his gang. Need a stolen exam? Or want a sugar high? You'll have to go through Vinny. Cross Vinny, and you'll be facing one of his "hired assassins."

Vinny's "hired assassins" hold your social life fate in their hands. These assassins hide water guns, and with one quick shot you'll look like you peed your pants, face social humiliation, a
Sharon Layburn
Apr 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
6th&up. Matt Stevens is my hero! Clever, honorable, smart-ass, and determined. This Spenser-like character navigates the treacherous waters of Franklin Middle School with a style you have to respect. Ferraiolo creates a mystery that's perfect for his audience, with some well crafted twists and turns. There's even some nice underlying messages as Matt refrains from jumping to conclusions, stands up to bullies despite the realistic risks that entails, and never gives up on his friends (even when o ...more
Gwen the Librarian
Oct 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kidlit
This was a fun and creative noir mystery in the style of the classics like Mickey Spillane. It had me laughing aloud with delight at the language and the similies. AND it wasn't just a gimmick...there were tender relationships, awkward adolescent moments, and a great mystery with twists and turns. I kept wanting to pick it up again when I didn't have time...always a good sign. Look at this, "Nicole Finnegan, a.k.a. Nikki Fingers, was a dream girl...the kind who caused nightmares." How can you be ...more
Jun 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic middle grade/middle school book, especially for guys. I read this when it first came out, but came across it again recently and was reminded how much I loved it- I need to start handing it out more. Lots of humor (laugh out loud moments, even!) but also a nail-biting mystery.

And I just saw there is a sequel! Yesssssss.
Dec 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
Loved it. Noir for the middle school set. Great narrator, fun. I hope there's another Matt Stevens mystery in the works. ...more
Mar 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Catie by: Prince William County Public Library's Juvenile Section
3 1/2 stars

First Library Quest: Completed!
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Franklin middle school is not just your ordinary middle school, from the water balloon attacks in the hallways to the infamous underworld boss, Vinny Biggs, this middle school is one’s nightmare. Such a creative and enterprising setting can only be created by one author, Jack Ferraiolo. The book starts off in the hallways of Franklin middle school, were Vinny’s most feared water balloon thrower, Nicki who is very vivacious and feared around the school, gets pummeled by a water balloon. Due to th ...more
Jul 29, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really did not enjoy this book from the start because it's 100% about bullying, and none of it is ever addressed by the adults. I also wasn't a fan of all the voices the audiobook narrator was providing. Usually I like that, but his whiney female husky voice was very off-putting, and so were his hyena laughs and other quirks.

Matt is a detective of sorts, and his best friend recently left him to join the school's mafia to protect the mob boss who deals candy contraband. Kids carry around squirt
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Extremely entertaining! Gumshoe detective hired by the middle school equivalent of the Godfather, just has to retrieve a good luck charm from a retired associate. The plot thickens when the retired person gets hit instead, ruining her reputation just like she has ruined several others before. I don't remember middle school being that cruel, but then again, I may have just been clueless to the sinister underworld in my middle school. ...more
Jared Saia
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Like Raymond Carver for the middle-school set. It's got it all: corrupt hall-monitors, pixie-stick junkies, water-gun slingers (who always aim for the crotch), and plenty of goofy metaphors. This is an all time favorite book for my son and me - I'm hoping the 2 book series expands soon. ...more
Dana C.
Jul 28, 2017 rated it liked it
If you enjoy sarcasm and noir mystery, this book has both in spades. I love how the students assume the stereotypical roles of a Hollywood who-done-it.
Oct 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: incredible
Very interesting book, incredible
May 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-by-friends
As a lover of Raymond Chandler, noir mysteries, humor, and a fan of Jack himself--as a particularly enjoyable conversationalist and general good company--I had pretty high expectations for The Big Splash (especially when I learned that Gordon Korman had done the blurb.)

The premise itself, a hard-boiled detective story set in middle school, is a delightfully clever one. Middle school is, if anything, more gritty, suspenseful and riddled with danger than the seedy underbellies of society that the
Zack Knight
Aug 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
First, before we begin, lets talk about how I will conduct my review. I will be grading them on a scale of 10 out of 10. I will award two points for 5 catagories for each book, and if a book is lacking in a catagory, i will deduct half a point to a whole point. These are the catagories: Plot, Characters, Pacing, Originality, and Enjoyment. Alright then lets start the review with a book I started and finished today, The Big Splash, written by Jack D. Ferraiolo.

The story takes place in a typical J
Sep 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
*** Spoil Alert***

The Big Splash is a good book but could be a little confusing. The Big Splash is a mystery book, although it is funny and suspense. I think this book would be a good book to read for kids in middle school. They would enjoy The Big Splash.

Matt Stevens is a smart mouth detective. In The Big Splash Matt Stevens is hired by Vinny Biggs the most notorious kid at the Frank to find out who took out Nichole "Nikki Fingers" Finnegan. Vinny Biggs is a kid who controls the the Frank.
Feb 22, 2017 rated it liked it
This book was great - so film noir I could hear the characters talking like on set of a noir film! There was a touch of romance, but more about junior high friendships, all narrated perfectly by our detective. Sure it was written for kids (man I bet junior high boys would love it), but I think the author did such a great job with the film noir tone that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'd highly recommend this to any mystery fans who are in, or want to go back to those junior high days!

More: http://mak
The Loft
Mar 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-humor, ya-mystery
Imagine taking Phillip Marlowe or Sam Spade and placing them in middle school - that’s how you end up with Matt Stevens. Matt is a no-nonsense private eye working the halls of the ‘Frank’- that’s Franklin Middle School to you.

Matt has the unenviable task of trying to track down who took out Nicole Finnegan, or as she was known up until the end of last year, Nikki Fingers. You see, Nikki was the fastest squirt gun shot around, but as her younger sister Jenny is about to start classes at the Fra
Feb 12, 2011 rated it liked it
The Big Splash has a wonderful noir feel. It has all the pieces; the hard detective, the damsel in distress, the harried newspaper man, the scared sources, the neighborhood bar, the crime boss, the thugs. All of it. It has the fun narration by the detective complete with colorful similes like ‘a bully without intimidation was like a new car without a motor: It may look impressive, but it wasn’t going anywhere,’ and ‘they rolled around my brain like billiard balls on a table with no pockets; noth ...more
Jul 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
A quick and easy YA book to read. The noir style mystery set in middle school is enjoyable, and interestingly enough explores the psychology of the seventh graders quite accurately. You have the bullies working for the mafia selling contraband sugary sweets, the bullied in an outcast group called the Outs, and the normal kids trying to survive by attaching themselves to a clique or a certain profession such as hall monitoring or school journalism. At times, the book can't decide between comedy a ...more
Jun 05, 2009 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: grades 7-9
Recommended to Sarah by: 7/8 list
Shelves: children-mystery
Matt Stevens is the guy to go to when you need to solve a mystery at Franklin Middle School. Jenny hires him to find out who “took out” her sister using a well-aimed stream from a SuperSoaker watergun. When kids are “taken out,” they become social outcasts. Jenny is determined to know who did it so she can get revenge on her sister’s behalf.

Matt only has a couple of days before the start of the weekend to find the person who did it because, after the weekend, the trail usually goes cold. Between
Mar 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, juvenile
I’m a big fan of hard-boiled detective stories, so when I saw The Big Splash---the first one of that sort that I’ve ever seen written for a juvenile audience---I really, really wanted to read it. After all, where else but in middle school will you find the situation so ideal for the noir-style mystery? And Jack D. Ferraiolo includes just about all the elements of the genre: there’s an organized crime boss, bully boys, assassins, dangerous dames, a story-hungry reporter, and the law, represented ...more
I'm not sure why this book hasn't received more attention. It covers many of the typical issues of middle school including bullying, self-esteem issues, and public humiliation as well as only passing references to classes and schools. Clearly, the author knows just what matters to middle graders, and it isn't the subjects they are studying. The author peppers in unique vocabulary and slang in this story he tells about seventh grader Matt Stevens, a private eye who wants to find out who is respon ...more
Dec 06, 2016 rated it liked it
This book is funny. That's about all. This book was made to be a parody of the "typical" detective story, with the Mafia, and the private eye, and you know what I'm talking about. It succeeds in that, but in making it unique? Not so much. I got most of the references, but it just seemed so unrealistic to have a middle school ruled by a mob boss. I also didn't think that the portrayal of the victims in the "Outs" as shell-shocked 6 year olds with PTSD would happen in a million years. Now, I know ...more
Sep 24, 2008 rated it liked it
Nice little piece of middle school crime fiction, more akin to Nickelodeon, than BRICK or VERONICA MARS. For the first 80-90 pages I wasn't all that into it, but on page 96, suddenly, all the bits of noir trappings vis-a-vis middle school, all the straining metaphors, snapped into focus:

"Five minutes doesn't seem like a long time, unless you're on the playground getting hammered with kickballs, wearing only socks and a stained diaper. Then five minutes is an eternity. That's how long it took for
Oct 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. The description of this book on the dust jacket is hilarious; I don't know if I do it justice when I say it's about a middle-school detective named Matt who accepts a job from the school's wannabe mafia-like boss and then finds himself having to track down the person who squirt-gunned Nikki, who used to be the boss's right hand girl. The writing makes this book like film noir, and I was laughing from the very first page. There is so much to love about this book: the characters are fun ...more
Dec 10, 2012 rated it liked it
The main character of this funny middle school mystery is Matt Stevens, a private eye at Franklin Middle School. He just accepted a job from Vincent "Vinny Biggs" Biggio, the kid behind every deal, from black market candy to forged hall passes. If you get on the wrong side of Vinny, then you get sent to the Outs club, the least popular club, by being shot with a squirt gun. Nicole Finnegan a.k.a. Nikki Fingers, a feared squirt gun assassin, is sent to the Outs, Matt is determined to find who did ...more
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