The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit (Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective #1) Review
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Runtime: 4 hours, 27 minutes
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In 2012, Octavia Spencer won an Oscar for her role in The Help. And although Hollywood has definitely kept her busy ever since, she’s also managed to make time for a side job, authoring the Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective series for kids—and she even took the time to narrate the audio edition of the first installment, The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit.

The story travels to the small town of Deer Creek, Tennessee, where Randi Rhodes lives with her widowed father. She didn’t want to leave her home in New York, where she kept herself busy as a kind of neighborhood vigilante. But when she and her father arrive in Deer Creek, she soon finds another mystery to solve. The whole town is struggling to survive—and unless this year’s Founder’s Day Festival is a success, most of the businesses will go bankrupt. And when the main attraction, the centuries-old time capsule, goes missing, the festival is threatened. So it’s up to Randi and her new friend, D. C., to find it before it’s too late.

The undertones of this story are admittedly quite sad. The town of Deer Creek is nothing short of desperate. The businesses are suffering, and the people fear what’s coming next. Meanwhile, not only has Randi been uprooted from her home and moved to some small, backwoods town, but she’s still mourning the loss of her mother and feeling separated from her father, whose own grief has made him more distant. In fact, having read so many books and seen so many movies about motherless children, my own daughter has started fearing my own seemingly inevitable demise.

Still, despite the rather dismal undertones, there’s plenty of action and adventure here—along with some lovable characters. Randi is a strong female character: a confident, headstrong young girl who refuses to stand around and let the town fall apart when she knows that she can help solve the case. She definitely has her flaws—she’s feisty and often stubborn, and she has a sometimes troubling problem with authority. But she’s also tough and thoughtful and supportive of her friends—and it’s nice to see a girl stepping up and taking charge of the situation. And now that she’s got a couple of new friends on her side—and her mystery-writing dad, too—she’s ready for even more ninja detective adventures.

This first Randi Rhodes mystery is filled with personality—from the people of Deer Creek to Randi and her friends. It’s a fun-filled story for kids, and it sets up what promises to be an enjoyable series.

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