Clinton Harding's Reviews > Harper Madigan: Junior High Private Eye

Harper Madigan by Chelsea M. Campbell
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Mar 15, 2012

really liked it
Read from March 15 to 17, 2012

"The Dropped Diva" is a completely cool read. Campbell nailed the feel of a hard boiled detective novel. She nailed the feel of a Raymond Chandler novel.

Main character Harper Madigan is a tough as nails, down on his luck detective with a dark past and a lot of demons... he's also in middle school. Don't let that final fact take away from how the book succeeds as a detective thriller. Campbell took all the aspects of a good detective yarn and tweaked them so they fit into a middle school setting. There is a crime underworld run by the bullies. At the top of this seedy underbelly is a mob-like organization, the adults, the parents comprising the PTA. Come on! Who else would be behind the curtain pulling the strings? Every character that stepped on to the stage was unique and colorful with a big personality. Harper is cool as cucumber (to borrow the expression from Campbell). He has a straight-laced partner trying to play by the book and keep him out of trouble. There is the dame Harper loves but who is always going to pull him into trouble. His archenemy is evil, intimidating, connected with top ranks of the PTA, and no one dares mess with him... no one but Harper Madigan! And of course there is the little guy, the underdog that needs a hero to believe in him or her.

Yes, the plot is not anything that is breaking down walls and turning the genre on its head. But that is the charm. This feels like a detective novel and it has the trappings of that type of novel. Kudos to Campbell for embracing those aspects and recoloring the setting. The twists can be seen coming. Regardless, there are enough twists to keep the pages turning fast and that makes this a fun read.

"Dropped Diva" is very much like a combination between the TV cartoons "The Kids Next Door" and "Fillmore". Both of which were cute and fun, packed full of adventure.

Hopefully Campbell will write more about Harper and his cases. I will pick them up. This is also a self published work. Support the author and self publishing, because this is the future publishing.
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