100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

Nonfiction Monday: Case Closed? by Susan Hughes

Case Closed? Nine Mysteries Unlocked by Modern Science
By Susan Hughes
Illustrated by Michael Wandelmaier
Kids Can Press
ISBN: 9781554533626
Grades 5-8
In Stores

The nonfiction landscape is littered with books on unexplained phenomena. The Bermuda Triangle, the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot – these sorts of real-life mysteries contain endless appeal for readers. Case Closed? is a notable entry in this group because:

A. It covers mysteries that don’t get as much attention, and…

B. It dives headfirst into the science used to crack these previously unsolvable cases.

A total of nine topics are covered, from more recent – the disappearance of Israeli submarine INS Dakar in 1968, to ancient – the missing pharaoh Hatshepsut in 1457BCE. The format of Case Closed? is a strength. Each topic receives thorough work over: introduction, tw0-page spread containing background information, and a description of attempts made to solve the case. Every step of the way, science is the star. DNA, CAT scans, computer simulations, tree-ring analysis – the variety of methods employed is impressive. Hughes explains each to the reader, who will likely come away with as much knowledge of these scientific techniqes as the mysteries themselves. Each chapter concludes with a final verdict, explaining if the mystery has been solved.

The artwork is modern and crisp, successfully bringing historical figures and events to life. Maps and photographs add context and boost the visual element. Additional information is presented in captions and “notes” that appear attached to the page.

A nice choice for student fact-finding or mystery junkie pleasure reading, Case Closed? will likely fill gaps in your collection’s coverage of the unexplained.

Review copy from publisher.

Click here to check out the Nonfiction Monday roundup at Practically Paradise.

Also reviewed by Jean Little Library.

Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. Travis I have been looking for this! Good to know it is as good as I’ve been hoping. Happy Thanksgiving to you…

  2. Wow, and just like that it arrives in the mail from Kids Can! My car needs bodywork too… … dangit.

    • Whoops that comment got all messed up due to an illconsidered use of brackets. Anyway. Commenting on your blog did not cause the car to get fixed… yet!

      • Hmm, maybe a magic phase is involved? You said “Happy Thanksgiving” in your comment on Case Closed?, maybe give that another shot?