Mystery of the Lunchbox Criminal


89 pages
ISBN 0-590-73367-2
DDC jC813'.54





Illustrations by Janet Wilson
Reviewed by Lynn Manuel

Lynn Manuel, a writer of mystery novels for young adults, is the author
of Return to Cranberry Farm.


Something strange is happening at J.J.’s school. Food keeps
disappearing from lunchboxes, with dirty, smelly cigarette butts left in
exchange. When J.J.’s three slices of ham-and-pineapple pizza vanish,
he decides to take matters into his own hands. He teams up with his best
friend Derek and a karate-expert classmate, Tanya. But their efforts to
trap the thief, using tin cans, land them in trouble. For punishment,
they must write 100 times, “I am not a detective. The teachers will
solve the problem.” This makes the trio even more determined to solve
the mystery first. With a fresh twist at the end, they discover that
even bad guys, such as bullies and thieves, can sometimes be pitied.

Lohans captures the sense of excitement and danger that is part of
children’s everyday world—a world of bullies and stolen lunches and
hideouts and frustrating adults. Childhood is seldom carefree and
simple, and Lohans conveys this by allowing us to see life through a
child’s eyes.

Entertaining and fast-moving, with appealing illustrations, this book
is sure to delight young readers.


Lohans, Alison., “Mystery of the Lunchbox Criminal,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 30, 2024,