Title: The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin
Author: Josh Berk
ISBN: 9780375856990
Pages: 250 pages
Publisher/Date: Alfred A. Knopf, c2010.

Miner Carl comes flying out of the Happy memory Coal Mine emergency exit, screaming maniacally, a hyperball of panic. I can’t tell what he is yelling, but it must be something like “Call the police” or “Dial 911” because dozens of people begin tapping their cell phones.
Devon, one of the many trying to get his cell phone to work, grabs me by the shoulders and explains with a look of serious concentration on his face.
“P-A-T I-S A-T T-H-E B-O-T-T-O-M O-F T-H-E M-I-N-E,” he signs with shaking hands.
“M-I-N-E-R C-A-R-L T-H-I-N-K-S H-E M-I-G-H-T B-E D-E-A-D.” (117)

Will Haplin is deaf, and has attended a hearing impaired school all his life. This year he’s entering a “regular” Pennsylvania high school, relying on lip-reading for most of his lessons. He’s less than enthusaistic about his experience, especially when his only friend becomes the class reject Devon. When the star quaterback ends up dead on a class trip to the mine, Devon recruits Will to help him solve the crime Hardy Boys style. But as they dig into the mystery, they find that the death isn’t the only thing that is questionable and begs investigation.

I’ve read nothing but favorable reviews for this book, but I was never really sold with this book. I liked the concept, and the boys do excercise some actual snooping and investigative practices. Will and Devon (along with Will’s friend Ebony) sneak in to see video coverage of student interviews and they revisit the scene of the crime to gather more evidence. But the solution seems… I hesitate to use the word anticlimatic, because it does come down to the wire in avoiding accussing an innocent person. In reading it though, I thought the solution came together too quickly and too neatly. And if all the things that were happening at this school happened at every school, I’d be sold on the idea of home-schooling! Mystery fans might enjoy, and the deaf student makes an interesting angle, but there are mysteries with more intrigue and disability stories with more impact out there.