Now an eighth grader, aspiring detective Bethesda Fielding reprises her semi-successful sleuthing in The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman (2010) to tackle Mary Todd Lincoln Middle School’s latest mystery.
A few weeks before the long-awaited eighth-grade trip to Camp Taproot, Pamela Preston’s gymnastics trophy mysteriously vanishes from the school Achievement Alcove, prompting diabolical Principal Van Vreeland to overreact by cancelling the trip, unless the culprit confesses to the theft of the school’s only trophy. Equipped with a new notebook to track the scanty clues (broken glass, empty trophy case, suspicious red specks and the initials IOM written on the wall), Bethesda’s instantly “on the case,” promising everyone she will solve the crime and save the class trip. Bethesda’s stymied as the trip approaches, though, and Principal Van Vreeland vindictively threatens students with a week of quizzes if the crime isn’t solved. Blaming Bethesda for letting them down, classmates orchestrate a desperate “Save Taproot Valley” video project, and she learns a painful lesson in not jumping to wrong conclusions. Featuring the same cast of eccentric teachers and eclectic students, this zany sequel offers another fast-moving middle-school puzzler, lots of pre- and early teen humor and one relentless sleuth who’s willing to admit when she’s wrong.
Fans will cheer more mystery and mayhem at Mary Todd Lincoln Middle School. (Mystery. 8-12)