Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate
Author: Casey Lyall
Publisher: Sterling Children's Books
Howard and his detective partner Ivy have to solve the mystery of the missing mascot, Spartacus the pug. Carl Dean, who has been bullying Howard, has been framed. Since Howard owes a favor Carl's uncle Marvin, the two detectives are forced to take the case. Throughout the story, Howard has to work with Carl, Leyla the spunky school reporter, the art department kids, and Howard’s worst enemy: his ex-best friend Miles. All of this is complicated by the fact that the basketball coach has also hired them to work the case on school grounds, convinced that Carl is the culprit. Each twist leads Howard, Ivy, Carl, Leyla, and Miles to new clues and twists in the case. Unfortunately, Howard is too busy to realize that Ivy is acting strangely, and even accuses her of taking on her own cases. By patching things up with his friend, he is able to resolve the case and unmask the real villain of the story.
Shadow of a Pug is a great sequel to Howard Wallace, P.I. by Casey Lyall. This novel resolves itself in an unusual way, with a grand plan to reveal the true antagonist. The mystery is enjoyable to follow, and the character development creates more depth to the story. It is refreshing to read a middle-grade novel that deals less with “angst” and more with real feelings and mature resolutions. Rather than getting back at Miles, Howard sits down and asks Miles why things went sour between them. While the plan to resolve the case was more dramatic than a real life situation, the problems that actually mattered were dealt with realistically. It is revealed that Ivy's disappearances were due to her attending therapy. Her mother, revealed in the last book to have abandoned her family, wants back in Ivy’s life, but Ivy struggles with this concept. By going to therapy, she has been trying to deal with her emotions with professional help. Overall, this book is an incredible sequel and great addition to any middle grade library.