Characters drive books

VANISHING ACTS: A Maggie Brooklyn Mystery. By Leslie Margolis. For ages 8-12. Bloomsbury USA Childrens. 240 pages. $15.99.

A mysterious dog egger, a missing teen heartthrob, some quirky characters and a little teen romance fill out this Maggie Brooklyn mystery. The pacing is steady but the action is not what really keeps this story moving. It’s all about the relationships. Whether it’s Maggie’s budding romance or the relationship between a teen movie star and his father, the characters and dialogue are well-developed and honest.

SLEUTH OR DARE: Partners in Crime. By Kim Harrington. For ages 8-12. Scholastic Paperbacks. 192 pages. $5.99.

Best friends Darcy and Norah create a fictional detective agency for a class project and things are great until a real client hires them for a missing-person case. What do they do when a threat is left in a school locker? Can they stick with the case until they solve it? The mystery is fun and dangerous.

McGeath Freeman reviews children’s books for Lowcountry Parent magazine. To see previous reviews, go to