“The treacherous, hormone-soaked hallways of Franklin Middle School are the setting for this sharp, funny noir novel about tough guys and even tougher girls. “The Frank” is in the clutches of a crime syndicate run by seventh-grader Vinny “Mr. Biggs” Biggio, who deals in forged hall passes and black-market candy. Double-cross him and your number is punched by one of his deadly water-gun-toting assassins. One hit in the pants and you are in “the Outs” forever. Matt Stevens is a proud loner with his own code of justice. He’s avoided being pulled into Vinny’s organization until now: Mr. Biggs has offered him a job he can’t resist, one that leads to the surprising downfall of Vinny’s top assassin, the beautiful and deadly Nikki “Fingers” Finnegan, at the hands of an unknown assailant. Matt thinks he was used, and he becomes determined to find the trigger-guy or -girl, even if it means bringing down one of his oldest friends.”
The Big Splash by Jack D. Ferraiolo is one of my favorite books of all time and my favorite book as a child. I loved its noir style set in a typical middle school with a sarcastic, yet likeable character in Matt. It has influenced a lot of my own stories and is one of the books I could read a million times and never get bored.
As an older person and reading this book once again, it still holds up even if the target audience is way younger than me. Matt Stevens is a sarcastic, yet likeable detective who often clashes with Vinny Biggio, the teenager running Franklin Middle School. The book’s noir setting if obviously influenced by old noir movies and novels. In fact, many of the main characters mimick typical noir detective characters. I found it genius, as a young child, that Ferraiolo chose to set it in middle school, which is a complete 180 from the typical adult and gritty world noir’s are set in. And as a much older person, I still have not found a book that has done this idea. I mean an underground black market controlled by a middle schooler who is essentially the most powerful person in the school. Or an army of squirt gun assassin’s much like the mob in noir movies. Or the sarcastic, do-it-alone- oh wait, that sounds exactly like the main protagonist of a noir detective. It really is the world that Ferraiolo creates that holds this book together and separates it from traditional middle school detective books. I might just be looking at the book through nostalgia glasses, but I still love this book.
Rating: Must Buy or at least check it out.