Down the Rabbit Hole Book Poster Image

Down the Rabbit Hole



Teen puts herself in danger to solve crime.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Parents could use this book to talk about deductive reasoning, or to introduce their kids to a host of other detectives and spies, such as Ingrid's hero, Sherlock Holmes. See our list of recommended books for some more modern alternatives.

Positive messages

Parents may not always appreciate Ingrid's methods, but this is a book about a brave, determined girl who is able to solve a crime by deducing clues.

Positive role models

Ingrid is a complicated role model: She is trying to solve a crime, and is plucky and brave, but she is also impulsive and dishonest, repeatedly putting herself in danger. She lies to her parents, the police chief, and friends; she sneaks out in the middle of the night and cuts class during the day, and copies homework.


Murder and attempted murder. Perhaps most disturbing: Ingrid's brother punches her, for which there are no repercussions.


Some kissing, a teacher is referred to as gay.


Occasional and mild.


Many stores and products mentioned, especially brands of footwear.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adults smoke and drink various types of alcohol. It's mentioned that Sherlock Holmes used cocaine. Ingrid suspects her brother of drinking, and a friend's brother is convicted of DUI.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Ingrid is a plucky, brave Sherlock Holmes fan who decides to solve a crime on her own. Parents and readers may be freaked out by some of her choices -- she is impulsive and dishonest, repeatedly putting herself in danger. She lies to her parents, the police chief, and friends; she sneaks out in the middle of the night and cuts class during the day -- and even copies homework. Mystery fans who are sophisticated enough not to take this dangerous behavior too literally will think her a modern-day Nancy Drew and be pleased to know that they can follow Ingrid into other books -- or be inspired to check out some other detective heroes.

What's the story?

One day when Ingrid is late for soccer practice she decides to run there, rather than wait for her mother to pick her up. She soon gets lost, and meets Cracked-up Katie, a local eccentric, who calls her a cab. The next day she finds out that Katie has been murdered, and realizes that she left her cleats at Katie's house. Worried that she will be implicated, she sneaks into Katie's house and takes back her shoes. But while there she discovers several clues that the police don't know about. When she finds out that the police have arrested two suspects who are probably innocent, she decides that, like her hero Sherlock Holmes, she must solve the murder herself.

Is it any good?


Fans who don't take all the drama too literally will be pleased to know this is the first of a series and can follow intrepid Ingrid into other mysteries. This is the first children's book by Peter Abrahams, a popular writer of adult mysteries, and it follows the teen-girl-detective formula pretty closely: plucky girl stumbles into mystery, decides to solve it herself rather than confide in adults, juggles mystery with school life, avoids being noticed by clueless parents, gets into mortal danger, solves mystery, explains it to police. It's basically Nancy Drew updated for the 21st century. Some parents may find it troubling that Ingrid is impulsive and dishonest, and repeatedly puts herself in danger by lying and sneaking around -- and some readers may be bothered by the tacked-on dramatic denouement.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk Ingrid's character. She often puts herself in danger and lies to people -- but she does ultimately solve a crime. Is she a hero in your eyes?  In reviews of this book, Publishers Weekly called Ingrid "charming" and Kirkus says her "behavior will have readers both rooting and worrying for her simultaneously." Do you agree with either of these descriptions? What words would you use to describe her?

  • Also, the Common Sense Media review calls Ingrid a "Nancy Drew updated for the 21st century." If you've read those books, do you agree? What other detective teen books have you read? What's appealing about the idea of a teen spy or a teen detective?

Book details

Author:Peter Abrahams
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:October 30, 2005
Number of pages:375
Publisher's recommended age(s):10

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Parent Written byteacher&mom August 8, 2011

not for my 12 year old.....

I did not think this book was appropriate for my 12 year old girl. I was surprised by the language. The main character lies to her parents (alot) and makes some very foolish decisions, but if she hadn't, there wouldn't be much of a story...
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008

Addictive series

I love this book and the sequels!! It is very interesting, and Ingrid is very likable despite the fact that she does lie some of the time. Besides, she solves a MURDER! That's a good thing. Anyway I would definitely recommend this book and the sequel
Adult Written by#1 nugget August 24, 2011

Honest Abe

I think this book is somewhat inappropriate for this age group. I personally think it has too much drinking and bad language. I am sorry if you don't agree with me, but this is my opinion.
What other families should know
Too much swearing


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