The heroine of this story, Lil Potkin, is a not very ordinary girl who lives with her mother in the city of Peligan; a place that seems dark and full of danger. Her mother works at the town hall for the Mayor and is never home, thus giving Lil plenty of time to indulge in her passion of being a detective. When she accidentally comes across the ghost of Ned Stubbs he asks for help in finding out what happened to him. Before long they are caught up in an old series of crimes, and then when these seem linked to Ned’s death they enlist the support of the private detective who had dealt with the original investigation. The trouble is that the more they delve into the past, the more dangerous life seems to become; can they solve the mysteries before the villains catch up with them?
This is a great crime adventure for middle grade readers and has a definite feel of American ‘gumshoe’ type stories. The author has created a dismal and at times sleazy city, where the Mayor totally controls the press and the police as well as the local government. Lil is a particularly feisty character and is not afraid of anything, although she does have a habit of jumping in to situations and Ned makes an unusual and worthy sidekick. The washed up detective Abe Mandrel acts as a link between the current action and the events of the past and we see him gradually climb out of the despair that he had been in after failing to have the villains convicted in the past. The villains are as nasty as you could wish for and there are some excellent twists and turns in the plot, so that the audience is kept guessing throughout the book. I look forward to any further adventures of this intriguing pair; after all being a ghost can be quite useful for an investigator.