Goodreads: Haunting at the Hotel
Series: Case Closed #3
Published: August 11, 2020
Pick-your-own-path and puzzle-packed mystery collide in the third book in Lauren Magaziner’s hilarious and interactive middle grade series in which the reader must help Carlos and his friends hunt ghosts at a haunted hotel.
In this wildly entertaining adventure, YOU pick which suspects to interview, which questions to ask, and which clues to follow. You pick the path—you crack the case!
Carlos Serrano is now officially an apprentice detective at Las Pistas Detective Agency. He finally earned his mom’s trust, but his next case will be his most difficult one yet. Guests at a creepy mountain hotel are complaining of weird disturbances, threatening messages, and hair-raising howls!
Carlos, along with his best friend, Eliza, and her wacky little brother, Frank, arrive on the scene to investigate a . . . ghost? What secrets is this haunted hotel hiding? With tricky puzzles, ghoulish secrets, ectoplasmic enemies, and dozens of impossible choices, these junior detectives need your sleuthing skills!
Can you help Carlos and his friends unravel the mystery before it’s too late? Or will it be case closed?
Looking for an only slightly spooky read for autumn or Halloween? A fun interactive book that lets YOU solve the mystery? A story with little bit of quirkiness to lighten the book? Look no further than Haunting at the Hotel, technically book three in Lauren Magaziner’s pick-your-path middle grade mystery series, though it can be read as a standalone.
When I read the first Case Closed mystery, Mystery in the Mansion, I enjoyed it, but the level of quirkiness wasn’t quite to my taste (I’m not really a quirky person, ok?) because while giant ball pits and alligators in mysterious mansions are fun, they’re also pretty random. Thus, I enjoyed book two, Stolen from the Studio even more because the fun and glamour came pretty naturally from the setting: the set of a popular TV series! The same is true for Haunting at the Hotel: the premise provides some naturally spooky and crazy plot lines because someone (or something!) is haunting an isolated lodge, and they are pulling all the stops to scare the guests away! I’m a scaredy-cat, so I loved that I was only a bit creeped out even as the characters (and I) were being chased, haunted, threatened, etc.
I also really liked the selection of paths and plot lines in this installment. All the books in the series seem to start the same way, where you are offered two choices (say, talk to Character A or talk to Character B) but you actually get to do BOTH of these things no matter what you choose. Do not be fooled by that and think that there are not a wide variety of paths and endings in Haunting at the Hotel; there are! I (implied?) died a couple of times, or just flat-out failed, but I also read through three different final endings of solving the case, and all were really interesting. (There may be more, but I can’t read this book forever!)
I also quite liked the interactive puzzles in this one. Some are quite easy (it’s a middle grade book, after all), but some took me a bit of work even though I’m not the target audience, and you can ask one of the characters for clues if you’re stuck (or, uh, just kind of lazy). I did need to break out a pencil a few times, which was also true for the first two books. These come in e-books, and I’ve read them that way, but I highly recommend buying a paper version so you don’t have to copy out the puzzles onto a separate piece of paper (also true if you borrow this from a library…I wonder how many library copies have actually been written on).
Overall, great book. Fun series. It’s pretty self-evident who I’d recommend this to: people who think a pick-your-path mystery with actual puzzles to solve sounds like a good time!