A young boy, adept at solving mysteries, teams up with his sister and a boyhood chum to unravel the town's crimes. After his sister's suicide, the boy is institutionalized, emerging as an adult to try and solve the greatest mystery of his life in Joe Meno's The Boy Detective Fails.
I heard Joe Meno read from his work during a public reading at the Ropewalk Writer's Workshop in New Harmony Indiana. I bought this book that night and read it straight through the next day while staying in the state park nearby. The following day I spend about four hours breaking the numerous codes throughout, including one that can be deciphered with a decoder ring you can cut out of the back of the book.
This was an offbeat read to say the least, reminiscent of book series from my youth like "Encyclopedia Brown" but with a distinctive postmodern edge, verging on the hallucinatory. I really enjoyed Meno's style as well as picking out the many pop culture references throughout. The codebreaking added an unusual element I had not seen in other work.
A happy surprise from an author I was unfamiliar with and will seek out going forward. Recommended.