Sleuthing with sass

Goldie Vance is a cheer­ful, big-hearted book that will ap­peal to wannabe sleuths of all ages.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Reads - Re­view by MICHAEL CHEANG star2@thes­ Goldie Vance and Hench­girl are avail­able at Ki­noku­niya Book­stores, Suria KLCC. For in­quiries, call 03-2164 8133, e-mail ebd3_kbm@ki­noku­ or visit­noku­ my.

GET a clue, Nancy Drew. Get real far, Veron­ica Mars. There’s a new teenage girl de­tec­tive in town, and she’s got sass, sen­si­bil­ity, and sick sleuthing skills.

Meet 16-year-old Marigold “Goldie” Vance, full time (of­fi­cially) car jockey and part-time (un­of­fi­cially) as­sis­tant to Wal­ter, the in-house de­tec­tive at the Crossed Palms Re­sort in St Pas­cal, Florida. Goldie’s fa­ther is the re­sort’s man­ager, and her mum (who di­vorced her dad years ago) is a “mer­maid” in a club. Her best friend Ch­eryl is a front desk clerk who wants to be­come an as­tro­naut, her clos­est ri­val Sugar is the daugh­ter of the re­sort’s owner, and her crush Diane works in a record store.

And that, in a nut­shell, is all you need to know about Goldie. Oh, and that she’s a ball of bound­less en­ergy and in­sa­tiable cu­rios­ity. And that pretty much sums up Goldie Vance, an on­go­ing se­ries by Boom! Box that is cur­rently avail­able in two col­lected edi­tions (which col­lect is­sues #1 to #8).

The first vol­ume is the per­fect in­tro­duc­tion to Goldie and her sup­port­ing cast mem­bers. Her first case in­volves look­ing for a guest’s miss­ing neck­lace, which snow­balls into a ma­jor af­fair in­volv­ing kid­nap­ping, con­spir­a­cies, gun­fights, dis­guises, and even a high-speed car chase. Hey, who says teen sleuths can’t be ac­tion he­roes too, eh?

Vol­ume 2’s story in­volves a mys­te­ri­ous girl in an as­tro­naut suit who is found ly­ing on Crossed Palms’ pri­vate beach. Nope, noth­ing sus­pi­cious there. But when Ch­eryl gets in­volved as well and runs off with the mys­te­ri­ous girl, Goldie gets help from Wal­ter (and her mum) to track down the two girls. In the process, she dis­cov­ers that there is a whole other side to Ch­eryl she never knew ....

Best known for orig­i­nal graphic novel Sala­man­der Dreams and be­ing the cur­rent writer of DC Comics’ Bat­girl se­ries, Hope Lar­son’s ca­reer has been an eclec­tic one. But one thing she is re­ally good at is writ­ing comics for a younger au­di­ence. Her graphic novel adap­ta­tion of Madeleine L’En­gle’s clas­sic A Wrin­kle In Time was widely praised, and her orig­i­nal teen-ori­ented graphic nov­els Mer­cury and Chig­gers were equally well-re­ceived.

Here, the fast-paced quirk­i­ness of Lar­son’s story and di­a­logue go well with Brit­tney Wil­liams’ bright, cheery il­lus­tra­tions, which per­fectly en­cap­su­late the youth­ful ex­u­ber­ance of the premise. It also helps that Goldie is such a fun char­ac­ter to read about, bounc­ing en­er­get­i­cally from panel to panel, seem­ingly un­fazed by what­ever ob­sta­cles the case throws her way.

If you like Boom! Box’s other young adult comics like Lum­ber­janes and Gi­ant Days ,as well as teenage de­tec­tive sto­ries, then you’ll like Goldie Vance too. Like those two ti­tles, it’s a cheer­ful, big-hearted book that will ap­peal to all ages, and make the per­fect gift for some­one who dreams of be­com­ing a teenage de­tec­tive.

Nancy Drew never got into any car chases, did she?

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