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The Postman Always Brings Mice: The Stink Files Dossier 001    by Holm, Hamel & Brad Weinman order for
Postman Always Brings Mice
by Holm
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2004 (2004)

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* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Cats crop up often in many adult mysteries, so it is only logical that cat detectives would eventually make their way into children's stories. The Postman Always Brings Mice is the first book of Holm & Hamel's new mystery series, The Stink Files, featuring the international cat of mystery, James Edward Bristlefur, who was the proud cat of English secret agent Sir Archibald Ash until his owner met his untimely demise by way of a poisoned cookie.

Determined to avenge his master, James sets out for Norway only to find that his cat carrier was rerouted for New Jersey. In America, James is adopted by Aaron Green and christened 'Mr. Stink.' Feeling restless, James attempts to escape to get back on the trail of Sir Archibald's killer, but discovers Aaron's need for his help is more urgent than his old master's revenge. The mystery element of catching Sir Archibald's killer is never resolved in this volume, creating a back story to continue through the series as many more obstacles pop up, keeping James just one step behind his nemesis.

The themes in the forefront of the tale are those of family and friendship, as James helps Aaron stand up to the class bully. However, the title, while clever, seemed forced into the plot. While The Stink Files are geared towards independent readers, adults will have fun reading along with their kids. James parodies his namesake at one point with a curt, 'The name is Bristlefur, James Edward Bristlefur,' which may seem clichéd, but is rather endearing in a children's novel. Also, like a typical film noir detective story, James is constantly encountering dangerous ladies.

All in all, Holm & Hamel's The Postman Always Brings Mice is a wonderful start to a new mystery series for children and the ending leaves the reader eagerly anticipating the next dossier from The Stink Files.

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