Open for Business, by Moya Simons

‘Hey, what are you writing?’ Bernice asked. ‘That’s your detective notebook. You’re only supposed to take notes when we’re working.’
‘Waiting for a client is the hardest work I’ve ever done,’ I said. ‘We’ve been open for four days and all we’ve done is sit here after school doing our homework and getting gassy on cola.’
‘I told you, it takes time for word to get around,’ said Bernice. She snorted and stamped her foot.
‘I’ve put in nearly twelve years getting ready to be a detective,’ I told her. ‘I’ve read every crime book. I’ve been on a tour of the police station and I’m heavily into dead bodies. this is kid stuff. I’m only helping you out as practice for my future.’

David and Bernice have set up a detective agency in their home town of Milk Bay. Their office is a shed in Bernice’s front yard. They’ve distributed flyers detailing their services and charges. Now all they have to do is wait for the work to come. And it does. David takes notes, because as he says ‘I need to record everything’ because you never know when you might need witnesses. Bernice thinks David writes down unnecessary things, David thinks Bernice is bossy. But each also admires the skill of the other and together they make a successful team. Some of their cases seem quite straightforward, but their biggest case has more twists and turns than a rollercoaster.

Open For Business is a corker of a detective story. David has read so much about being a detective and he’s channelling the mannerisms of almost all of them. Simultaneously. Bernice is much more pragmatic. David says he’s only doing her a favour by being involved, but together they make a balanced team. Open for Business begins with extracts from David’s detective note book and set the humorous tone with descriptions of everything from Bernice’s ‘straight fringe slicing forehead’ to the air freshener required because of all the cola they’re drinking. The narrative is first person, through David’s eyes, his observations and descriptions are sprinkled throughout the text. The pair do tackle small cases like disappearing underwear, but there is a serious case to be solved too. Having established David and Bernice and ‘The Walk Right In Detective Agency’ in Open For Business, it was no surprise to find the cover of the second title pictured on the final page. I’m sure there’ll be more too. Recommended for mid-primary readers.

Open for Business, Moya Simons
Walker Books 2008
ISBN 9781921150302