The Spider Bites by Medora Sale is from a new series of books called Rapid Reads. Part of the Raven Books line from Orca, this series is intended for adult literacy students and reluctant teen readers. In The Spider Bites, ex-cop Rick Montoya returns to his former home, only to discover that it has burnt down and contains a corpse inside. As he works to unravel the mystery, he encounters friends and foes from his past.
This book is a great choice for the intended audience. The reading level is at a preteen's or teen's level, but the characters and content are more appealing to adults. Because the novel is so short, there is not much room for character development. However, I can see this evolving into a successful series in which a few main characters continue to grow. This novel follows the style of a traditional mystery, with a small cast of characters, a suspenseful plot and a satisfactory conclusion in which all is revealed.
On the publisher's Web site, it is suggested that Rapid Reads would also appeal to people simply looking for a fast read. I suspect that this particular novel would not be complex or detailed enough to satisfy those who normally enjoy regular-length mystery novels, but it is possible other books in the series will have wider appeal. Most reading series for adult learners offer condensed versions of well-known books or are written by authors who primarily write this kind of graded reader. The Rapid Reads series differs in that the books are written by well-established Canadian writers. Medora Sale, for example, has published crime fiction as Caroline Roe.
I would definitely recommend The Spider Bites to adult learners who would enjoy a contemporary mystery, and I look forward to seeing more titles in this new series.