Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate
Author: Casey Lyall
Publisher: Sterling Children's Books
Howard runs his own P.I. business at school, taking cases such as stolen band instruments and mystery love letters. Finally, he gets the big case he's been waiting for: stolen pre-signed checks from the student council treasurer, equivalent to $5,000. Along with his new temporary junior partner, Ivy, Howard begins to investigate. Despite threats, they follow the trail, unfortunately getting caught while searching a teacher's desk. Howard manages to shove Ivy into hiding just in time, but his punishment is a day of suspension and the forced closure of his business. Determined to see the case through and save the treasurer's job, Ivy and Howard throw caution to the wind to solve the case.
Howard Wallace, P.I. by Casey Lyall is a detective story that follows the style of Sam Spade and the Maltese Falcon. At first, the language Howard uses to narrate can be distracting to someone unaccustomed to classic 40s detective movies, but it quickly becomes engaging as Howard lives in a world of his own. The narration is highly reminiscent of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes, who often pretends to be the same sort of character. It is also similar in that neither Calvin nor Howard seem to live in the real world. Howard is almost a pitiable character in that he has no friends and escapes into this world he has created for himself. Despite this, Howard grows as a character and even manages to become friends with Ivy throughout the story.