What began as a seventh-grade school presentation by polar-opposite best friends Darcy Carter and Norah Burridge soon turns into a real-life situation. The girls designed a website advertising detective services under the name Partners in Crime, and shortly afterward, someone emails them and asks for help finding their twin sister. The new detective duo decides to take on the case, their first, and what follows is a grade-A adventure. Throw in some threats and suspense and a surprising ally, and this story becomes an exciting journey full of technological thrills and perhaps a hint of puppy love.
With the Sleuth or Dare books, Kim Harrington creates a new girls detective series for modern readers. “Partners in Crime” is similar to a twenty-first-century Nancy Drew and is very relatable for middle-grade readers, particularly girls. This book is narrated in the first person by Norah, which enhances the relevance for readers. Given that Norah and Darcy are so different and yet best friends who stick together and help others their own age, there is also a strong message of loyalty and friendship. These two main characters complement each other very well, and they take a stand against bullying while dealing with typical situations, both in school and at home, that face contemporary middle-school students. Norah and Darcy prove that being intelligent and unique and not necessarily belonging to the popular, “in” crowd is ok and has rewarding benefits. The use of technology such as cell phones and the Internet, coupled with teenage lingo, ensures that the plot will be applicable to young readers. Also, several of the chapters have mildly frightening cliff-hanger endings, and the end of the story leads into book two, “Sleepover Stakeout.”