Intrigue at 404 Appalling Street

Young Adult - Mystery
224 Pages
Reviewed on 03/01/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Anne-Marie Reynolds for Readers' Favorite

Intrigue at 404 Appalling Street by George S Haines is a fun mystery story aimed at the young adult audience. Colonel Helmut Schmidt, AKA Red Fox, is up to his old tricks. Moving into 404 Appalling Street, an abandoned mansion, he sets up a secret chemical laboratory where he plans to produce BrainX, a compound that he hopes will let him control how humans act and think. But Sheriff Neverfine is hot on his trail, with detectives Howie and Sam backing him up. What's the connection between 404 Appalling Street and the supposedly haunted house next door? Can the detectives stop Red Fox before his experiments get going, or will he gain the upper hand and continue experiments started in the war?

Intrigue at 404 Appalling Street by George S Haines was a fun story to read, full of harebrained schemes and rollicking antics. It's an interesting story of a criminal mind attempting to take over the world and control everyone, and it is a thrilling back-and-forth between the criminal and the detectives. Written in the third person, it gives the reader a nice overview of everything going on, and we even learn the history of the abandoned mansion. The story is well-written, with an intriguing plot and plenty of action. Twists and turns lead us down dark corridors as the suspense builds and, as well as allowing us a peek into how the mind of criminal works, it is also humorous, albeit a little dark at times. It may be aimed at the YA audience, but this book is ideal for older readers of all ages. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it makes me want to read other stories by the same author.

Manik Chaturmutha

Intrigue at 404 Appalling Street by George S. Haines follows detectives Sam and Howie's latest adventure as they unravel the mysterious events at an abandoned mansion in their small town. Agent Red Fox, a German ex-tank commander, has come to a small town in Indiana to run a secret chemical laboratory. He is working to produce a mysterious chemical called BrainX which he hopes will enable him to control the minds and actions of humans. Agent Red Fox believes the abandoned home at 404 Appalling Street is ideal for his secret schemes, while Sam and Howie struggle to unmask his evil plans.

The detective mystery angle in the book is quite engaging and keeps readers hooked and guessing what happens next. Will Red Fox succeed in making BrainX and continue with his plan? Will the town's Sheriff Neverfine and detectives Sam and Howie successfully thwart Red Fox and his evil schemes? The book has a humorous and entertaining tone. The detectives and villains get entangled in both mental and physical battles. The physical combat is written comically, and the mental conflict is not too difficult to follow, making it easy for readers to enjoy the book while having a hearty laugh at some of the characters' antics. Suspense builds until a dramatic climax occurs. In the end, there is also an indication that this will not be the detectives' last investigation, leaving readers wanting more. Intrigue at 404 Appalling Street by George S. Haines is suitable for readers of all ages who like whimsical, fun stories with mystery.

Essien Asian

Having successfully eluded capture, Colonel Helmut Schmidt (who is better known by his code name Red Fox) weasels his way back into Pumpkin Blossom. He intends to get back to work on fine-tuning his secret formula so he can sell it and make the millions necessary for his inevitable escape to the relative safety of South America. With his trusted henchmen unavailable, he turns to Hilda, his long-time assistant, to aid him in his nefarious plans. Sheriff Byron Neverfine knows he will need all hands on deck if he is to stop the wily Red Fox. He turns to Sam Hames and Howard Newbald of the S and H detective agency to help him in Intrigue At 404 Appalling Street by George S. Haines.

The first thing that immediately stands out is the unusually high degree of intellect displayed by the villain in this story. I was not expecting a bungling half-wit but it felt almost painful to see so much refined talent put to use in deliciously malevolent ways. The tone of the story alternates between relatively serious and unbelievably funny in a manner that put me at ease while getting to understand the storyline and its sometimes quirky subplots. The attention to detail is noteworthy as George S. Haines does a tremendous job of describing the people and places that give Pumpkin Blossom and Marston their unique appeal. Intrigue At 404 Appalling Street may not be the swashbuckling affair I initially envisaged but its interesting storyline combines well with its Christian undertones to create a wholesome reading experience for all ages.

K.C. Finn

Intrigue at 404 Appalling Street is a work of fiction in the murder mystery and suspense subgenres. Penned by author George S Haines, it is aimed at young adult readers but could also be enjoyed by adult readers. In this thrilling tale with plenty of twists and surprises, we find ourselves embroiled in the sinister chemical plot of the villainous Red Fox, who intends to make a laboratory capable of concocting a mind-control substance known only as BrainX. Sheriff Neverfine and the team at S and H Detective Agency are brought in to investigate, but the reports of hauntings from a building adjacent to 404 Appalling Street only complicate matters further.

Author George S Haines has crafted a thrilling mystery tale with plenty of intrigue to keep young (and young at heart) minds racing with possibilities from cover to cover of this truly enchanting book. One of the things which I most admired about the writing and story construction was that the whole town felt populated and real, with detailed locations that felt instantly cozy (or in some cases, truly sinister) and a wide ensemble cast of realistically-penned people with charming everyday dialogue. It was easy to imagine rolling into this town myself and going along with Sam and Howie to trail the suspects and put the clues together, which I think is a fantastic quality for YA mystery fiction to possess. Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend Intrigue at 404 Appalling Street for its charm, all-encompassing writing, and masterful mystery construction.

Scott Cahan

Intrigue at 404 Appalling Street by George S. Haines is a comical mystery horror. A fiendish villain nicknamed Red Fox is trying to develop a formula called BrainX that will allow him to control his victims' minds. Sheriff Neverfine and his crew of detectives are hot on his trail. The story shifts back and forth between the points of view of the good guys and the bad guys. Neither side is particularly competent at accomplishing their goals, which is where much of the humor comes in. As the plot thickens, we meet many strange characters and learn about several bizarre events that have taken place at the house at 404 Appalling Street.

Intrigue at 404 Appalling Street is a great story with fantastic characters and author George S. Haines shows wonderful imagination with a tale that includes plenty of creepy characters doing sick things but none of it is played for shock value. The author’s intent seems to have been to make his readers smile rather than to make them shrink back in fear. It’s the same kind of vibe one can get from watching an episode of the old Addams Family TV show. His characters are campy and over-the-top, just as they should be in a story like this. The book also works well as a mystery. There are many unexplained occurrences throughout that are not explained until the end when the detectives reveal their findings. I recommend this book to all ages including young teens and senior citizens. Anyone who likes a good laugh along with their scares will enjoy this tale.