Books for Kids · Reading

“The World’s Greatest Detective” Review

“Most people who made their way to Detective’s Row were in trouble, one way or another, and Toby Montrose was in a heap of it.”

So begins The World’s Greatest Detective by Caroline Carlson. This was another book we considered for Ivy’s book box birthday gifts, and I gave it a read through beforehand.

In brief, it is the story of an orphaned boy, Toby Montrose, who goes to live with his uncle, a detective in a fictional city where private investigating is a popular occupation. There are lots of detectives here, so many that a whole street is devoted to their residences. Business, however, is bad. Toby has been passed on from family member to family member and fears that with his Uncle’s agency failing, he will soon be passed on again, this time to an orphanage.

Fortunately for Toby, Hugh Abernathy, the universally proclaimed “World’s Greatest Detective,” is retiring and has decided to hold a contest to see which detective will take his title from him – and $10,000. With the help of Ivy, an awkward girl much more interested in the detecting than the money, Toby determines to win the contest and use the money to enable him stay with his uncle.

This was a fun book and well-written, very appropriate for a middle-grade age group. The plot has a few twists and turns – for one, a real murder in place of the “staged” one for the contest – and both Toby and Ivy are forced to work out some personality clashes on their way to friendship. There was not much depth here as far as significant life lessons or deeper themes, but that wasn’t really the point. The point was to create a fun, engaging mystery…and that’s what this is.





There is general discussion of past murders and one murder by poison in which the body is described in some detail. Also, Toby faces some real threats including being held at gunpoint.

Sex/Romantic Themes



Depending on your child, you may be concerned with a few of the repeated behaviors that Ivy encourages, including not being “too good” and the ability to “lie with confidence” while on a case.

NOTE: As always, my content notes are for informational purposes, not judgmental ones. For a full explanation of my Content Notes and the scale, click here. 

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