The Dirt Bike Detective

Children - Audiobook
Audio Book
Reviewed on 02/23/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Carmen Tenorio for Readers' Favorite

The Dirt Bike Detective by Douglas L. Hoover is about five middle school misfits and outcasts doing a paranormal investigation of Raven Ridge Academy, their castle-like, gargoyle-embellished school that is rumored to be haunted. They were brought together by a self-proclaimed paranormal expert newcomer, and dirt bike rider named Chase. What began as the group's initial goal of reclaiming their group member Oliver's confiscated antique pocket watch quickly develops into a fully-fledged inquiry into the peculiar events at their school, which turns out to be of significant concern as they meet some real danger that made their probing activities quite hazardous. As Chase's band of underdogs continue their investigation, they become entangled in a labyrinth of life-threatening trouble that imperils the impending visit of the US President to their school, which can even put the fate of the world in jeopardy. Will they be able to unravel the mystery in time to save lives and safeguard their future?

Douglas L. Hoover's The Dirt Bike Detective is a fast-paced, well-written, action-filled novel that has compelling and memorable characters that readers will love. The author's sense of inclusivity and acceptance, especially for those with physical imperfections or disabilities, and themes of friendship are seen in his relatable cast of irregulars. The characters easily engage readers, mainly because of their personalities and dispositions which range from being wildly imaginative and gullible to someone having a more realistic and rational mind. Listeners will simply enjoy cheering for these courageous underdogs whose tenacity and resolve erase the fear of going through anything to achieve their objectives. It's entertaining, written in the first person with Oliver acting as the storyteller and witness to the group's mishaps and adventures. This makes the reader step into the middle schoolers' somewhat naive perspectives, especially when the group strives to synergize their work and arrive at a tangible conclusion to solve the mystery. The author also keeps readers interested by including a lot of exciting hints, suspense, and occasional unnerving "other-worldly" events.

The audiobook is narrated by multi-award-winning voice actor Ramon de Ocampo, whose captivating and highly amusing style utilizes his talent to present a variety of articulate voices and accents that brings the characters to life and gives them a wider dimension. It was primarily written for Young Adult readers due to some sensitive themes and incidents that are tactfully touched on in the novel. However, this well-done and outstanding audiobook can also be geared toward younger audiences with some adult guidance.

Sefina Hawke

The Dirt Bike Detective by Douglas L. Hoover is a fictional young adult mystery novel that will appeal most to an audience of young adults who enjoy a good paranormal mystery book. The Dirt Bike Detective follows the perspective of twelve-year-old Oliver as he works with some of his friends and the new kid to retrieve his grandfather’s pocket watch which was confiscated at Raven Ridge Academy. Oliver, Chase (the new kid), and a group of friends assemble to get the watch back, but they quickly tumble into more trouble than they ever expected as they are forced to deal with zombies, aliens, ghosts, and even secret agents. Will they ever get Oliver’s grandfather’s pocket watch back?

Move over Scooby Doo, Sherlock and Watson, and make room for Oliver, Chase, and friends as they show you how a real paranormal mystery is solved. I have to say I was originally skeptical about whether or not Douglas L. Hoover could combine so many different paranormal elements in one book, while still having a good plot line and character development, but he really pulled it off. Douglas L. Hoover keeps all of the dialogue realistic for the ages of the children and other characters. I liked how the characters actually acted their own age, like the children that they actually were. The plot line moved at a steady pace for the entire novel and there are a few twists and turns that kept me interested.

Katelyn Hensel

The Dirt Bike Detective by Douglas L. Hoover is a tale every pre-teen would love to experience. When Oliver's heirloom watch is confiscated unfairly, he is surprised that the new kid, Chase, wants to help him get it back. Chase has read one too many mystery books and fancies himself as an emerging detective, so he assembles a rag-tag group of kids to help in the mission to return Oliver's watch. Yet the confiscated watch isn't the only odd thing to turn up, and soon the kids are neck-deep in mysteries and intrigues ... some supernatural in nature!

This book was such a fun ride, I don't even know where to start. Oliver and his friends are a great bunch of kids, with lots of characterization and great banter and chatter between everyone. One of my favorite parts is that there are people of different races, with disabilities, and yet they are all treated well and become part of the story! Although the language was slanted younger, the plot was still enjoyable and fun for an adult. The mystery was very well done, with a conclusion that will have you contentedly nodding when they finally land on the right answer. Douglas L. Hoover has created a really cute and fun read. I would definitely send a copy to my 12-year-old niece so that she could get in on the action! The Dirt Bike Detective is a cool mystery book with flavors of both The Boxcar Children and Scooby Doo.

Rabia Tanveer

The Dirt Bike Detective by Douglas L. Hoover is the tale of some really cool, but mismatched children at Raven Ridge Academy. The story is told from the perspective of Oliver. He is a twelve-year-old kid with a huge birthmark on his right cheek. He has two very good friends, but he wants to fit in at school, make more friends and broaden his horizons. Our story begins when one day Oliver’s grandfather’s pocket watch is confiscated in school. Devastated, he has no idea what to do when Chase, another student, comes up with his own ideas to rescue the pocket watch and get it back for him.

Chase wants to be a detective and he is trying to prepare himself for the future when he will be able to have the job he always wanted. So, he gathers a team who all try to get Oliver's granddad's pocket watch back. But once they start investigating, they learn that there is something much more sinister happening in their school than they thought. Should they let it go? Or should they investigate and get tangled in the mystery?

This novel reminded me on occasion of Alex Cross and Nancy Drew. These are the stories that I grew up reading and I had a huge blast of nostalgia when I started reading this book. The story is fantastic, these kids were amazing. They had a certain charm that kept me going. I loved reading about these cool kids. These are good solid characters that I would like to read about again and again.

Ray Simmons

Move over Hogwarts and Harry Potter! There’s a new school with a lot of mysterious events going on and there’s a new kid who is as much a hero as Harry, only he’s a detective, not a wizard. In The Dirt Bike Detective, Douglas L. Hoover has put together a very likable ensemble of kids and they are a little more accessible for me personally than the kids in the Harry Potter books, simply because they are so American. Raven Ridge Academy is located in a small town in Colorado of the same name. It is anything but a typical American school. It looks like a castle for one thing, and there are a lot of weird things going on for another.

I can talk about plot. There is a good one in The Dirt Bike Detective. I can talk about characters. There are a lot of great ones in The Dirt Bike Detective and with a little luck, Douglas L. Hoover will get to watch them become cultural icons. I could talk about setting, there is a good one here. But I want to talk about writing. There are only bad stories, okay stories, and great stories. This one is great. I knew I was onto something good from the first page, simply from the flow of young Oliver’s voice in my head. He has a way of telling the story that drew me to him. I was laughing and chuckling at his observations from the first few sentences because I could remember making similar observations when I was a kid. His musings took me back to my own childhood. That’s good writing.

K.C. Finn

The Dirt Bike Detective is a work of fiction in the mystery and adventure subgenres. It is primarily aimed at middle-grade and young adult readers and was penned by Douglas L. Hoover. This audiobook format is presented by Iconicon with narration by Ramon de Ocampo. The story begins when Oliver has a pocket watch that once belonged to his great-grandfather confiscated at school, prompting amateur sleuth Chase to want to reclaim it. But this venture only leads Chase, Oliver, and the wider friend group into a series of intriguing paranormal events inside their school, and their investigation gets more and more deadly the deeper they delve into the mysterious history of Raven Ridge.

Douglas L. Hoover has crafted a fascinating sleuthing tale in The Dirt Bike Detective that leaves no stone unturned for young (and young at heart) mystery enthusiasts. I was particularly impressed by the narration surrounding the issue of bullying, which took a deeper look at ego and motivation than I was expecting and made a three-dimensional view of this aspect of a preteen’s self-esteem. The adventure had many of these touching and poignant moments for each character, woven into a suspenseful and highly enjoyable tale with tons of twists and turns.

In terms of its audiobook presentation, the professional quality of the recording offers crisp, clear sound and a great pace to unfold the tale. Narrator Ramon de Ocampo puts a great sense of enthusiasm and youth into the characters, offering emotional highs and lows as well as humor, pathos, and genuine emotion. I also felt the narrator understood the key plot points and was sure to enunciate the “clues” for readers to follow properly. I would certainly recommend the story in its audiobook format to enhance an already action-packed tale.

Kayleigh Perumal

The Dirt Bike Detective, written by Douglas L. Hoover and narrated by Ramon de Ocampo, is a children’s mystery novel that all ages will enjoy. What starts as a typical day at school for shy, ostracized Oliver, turns into an unexpected adventure filled with curious circumstances. After Oliver’s great-grandfather’s pocket watch is confiscated, Chase, the new kid (and his new friend), vows to help him get it back. However, as the day progresses, they realize that things are not as they seem at Raven Ridge Academy and that something far more serious is going on. As a self-proclaimed detective, Chase is convinced that supernatural and paranormal activities are in action. When their history teacher, Mr. Doyle, disappears, Chase, Oliver, Geo, and Jax (Oliver’s crush) investigate the situation privately, collecting evidence. Will they ever find out what is really going on at school? Moreover, will Oliver ever get his great-grandfather’s pocket watch back?

Hoover creates a suspenseful narrative that intrigues the listener from the outset. Each chapter delves further into the mystery you get to know the characters more deeply. Each one possesses their own distinct traits and is portrayed in diverse ways. The writing itself is highly descriptive and original, and it is easy to become immersed in the world of Oliver and his friends. Although this story will particularly appeal to middle-school children, anyone who appreciates humor, some light-hearted amateur detective work, and a dynamic setting will enjoy The Dirt Bike Detective.

Ramon de Ocampo is also an excellent narrator and does the story performance justice by curating each character’s voice to their respective personalities. This helps the listener to create a concrete mental picture of each character. De Ocampo’s voice acting talents have been recognized by awards such as the Audie Award for Multi-voiced Performance and 11 Earphone awards from Audiofile Magazine. He has voiced over a hundred audiobooks, the most well-known series being The Diary of a Wimpy Kid.