“The Case of the French Fry Phantom” by Erik Christopher Martin

“The Case of the French Fry Phantom” by Erik Christopher Martin 663 1024 Reader Views Kids

The Case of the French Fry Phantom

Erik Christopher Martin
In A Bind Books (2023)
ISBN: 978-0998118246
Reviewed by Rachel Dehning for Reader Views (11/2023)

Meet Dotty Morgan, an eleven-year-old supernatural detective in Erik Christopher Martin’s “The Case of the French Fry Phantom: Dotty Morgan Supernatural Sleuth, Book 1.  She’s on the hunt for the latest and most dangerous phantom yet, the one stealing all the potatoes and potato products in town, which, unfortunately, includes french fries! Dotty is your average sixth grader – she attends school with bullies but has a best friend, Parker, to make life enjoyable. Parker isn’t an average sixth-grade boy – he’s interested in fashion and keeps Dotty in line with her wardrobe choices.

Dotty’s interests lie in the supernatural, but unfortunately, not many believe her; when potatoes and products go missing every night across town, Dotty is sure it isn’t human doing. When a new girl (Hannah) moves to town, she, Dotty, and Morgan click and work together through success and failure as they attempt to keep their friendship in check, tackle a problem bigger than themselves, and discover secrets that run generations long.

Much of the story revolves around yoga and learning to become a healthier version of yourself. Dotty wonders if this is a type of brainwashing since her one experience doesn’t go so well. Martin’s decision to make this a central theme is wise due to the number of unhealthy choices and decisions offered and made every day, along with the realistic thoughts of adolescents.

In Martin’s brief write-up about himself, the reader learns that he believes in gender fluidity and identifies himself as both he/him and they/them; readers will notice these beliefs in the characters, with Parker reading more feminine and a strong interest between Dolly and Hannah forming. Martin writes Dotty’s mother as being similar to a single mother due to her father working away – two situations not shown as often in literature.

“The Case of the French Fry Phantom” reads as suspenseful, female-strong, and centralizes on the point that love is most important. The story empowers younger readers as the main characters/heroes are sixth graders. Working through past wrongs and reaching forgiveness is a difficult concept for all readers, regardless of age, and the concept reads just as difficult for the characters in the story. Camaraderie and working together are strong and vital concepts. Overall, the story includes positive and uplifting situations. “The Case of the French Fry Phantom” is the first story in the “Dotty Morgan Supernatural Sleuth Book” series by Erik Christopher Martin.

TRIGGER WARNINGS: Potential triggers to be aware of include the depiction of pentagrams, spells, ghostly encounters, and themes related to sexual orientation, as well as instances of verbal bullying by classmates. Given these elements, it is recommended that readers and parents exercise caution when considering this book for younger audiences. While the story features middle-school-aged characters, this reviewer feels it is more suitably targeted toward older teens and young adults due to its handling of intense and sensitive subjects.

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