Here at Growing with Science I usually concentrate on great nonfiction, but I came across a fiction series that some of you might be interested in. Books in the Doyle and Fossey, Science Detectives series by Michele Torrey and illustrated by Barbara Johansen Newman each contain four science mysteries, plus in the back are instructions for seven activities and experiments related to the stories that you can try yourself.

Although the covers and titles may look a bit scary, the mysteries themselves are pretty straightforward.

In The Case of the Barfy Birthday, the detectives Doyle and Fossey investigate whether their client accidentally poisoned her sister, help save some birds, do a bit of ghost busting, and figure out how to get a pig out of a pit. Note to the squeamish: The first case does involve vomit.
The Case of the Gasping Garbage sends the detectives to the laboratory to find out why the garbage can is making odd noises, has them figuring out a way to help frogs, investigating the case of a stuck truck, and using chromatography to identify who wrote a love letter.
Will The Case of the Mossy Lake Monster be their last? After taming the monster, Doyle and Fossey discover why a cat won’t eat, find a way to help penguins covered with oil (a story straight out of the news), and reveal a political prankster.
The Case of the Crooked Carnival actually starts with the detectives looking into a report of ghosts in an old house. After they stop an alein invasion (of plants), Doyle and Fossey solve the mystery of a carnival game, and discover a problem with the town bridge.
In The Case of the Graveyard Ghost, Doyle and Fossey have to get their client out of a laundry chute, solve the mystery of some wrecked roses, reveal yet another ghost, and investigate a case of a rare bird.

The mysteries in these books are fast-paced and interesting. Doyle and Fossey are a bit over the top, but definitely likable characters. The activities and experiments are kid friendly. (You know how much I love when books provide hands-on activities to reinforce learning.)

I did find a few minor flaws in some of the books. For example, although billed as a microbiologist, the author states that yeasts are plants in The Case of the Gasping Garbage. Modern classification schemes group yeasts with the fungi.

I also wondered why in The Case of the Crooked Carnival, the alien plants are called “purple loosegoose.” In the back the author identifies a true weed, purple loosestrife. I guess the funny name injects a bit of levity?

In any case, if your children are interested in fiction and mysteries, these books might just entice them to try a bit of science as well.

The books were provided for review.