This appetizing assortment is a nifty invitation to further mystery-reading.

MYSTERY & MAYHEM

TWELVE DELICIOUSLY INTRIGUING MYSTERIES

A selection of 12 original, traditional mysteries loosely organized by minigenre: locked rooms, closed systems, poisonings, and dog stories.

For readers relatively new to the genre, this British import offers a nice selection of the ways these puzzle pieces can be worked out, with plenty of allusions to classics in the field. The young protagonists include both boys and girls, from preteens to young workers. The title character in the opening "Emily and the Detectives" is "a small muddy brown girl" (wonderfully accomplished but “unfortunately dusky” in the parlance of the time and place); another takes place among Jamaican immigrants in a London neighborhood in which an official is described as a "white woman”; a third is set among an earlier wave of immigration, the French in the late 18th century. Most of the mysterious events take place in England, from the 1700s to the present day. There are murders and stolen jewels, kidnapped dogs and a spoiled Carnival costume. Too many cases depend on the discovery of a stray piece of waste, but others feature the sharp eyes and logical skills of the young puzzle-solvers. Several, including the one from editor Katherine Woodfine, author of The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow (2016), feature characters from their authors’ mystery series, but otherwise there are no author biographies.

This appetizing assortment is a nifty invitation to further mystery-reading. (Mystery/short stories. 10-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4052-8264-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Egmont USA

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Will appeal to readers who appreciate action-oriented tales.

CHARLIE THORNE AND THE LOST CITY

From the Charlie Thorne series , Vol. 2

Hints left by Charles Darwin of a world-changing discovery send a 12-year-old supergenius deep into the Amazonian rainforest.

Holed up in the Galápagos Islands and hotly pursued by both the CIA and the KGB for knowing Einstein’s most deadly secret (see Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation, 2019), Charlie decodes a message about the “Greatest Treasure in Human History,” carved by Darwin almost two centuries ago on a tortoise’s plastron, and follows further coded clues first to Quito and then on into the Peruvian wilderness—with, eventually, no fewer than four sets of secret agents and treasure hunters in her wake. What might the “Greatest Treasure” be? Gibbs plays his cards close to his chest as he employs multiple point-of-view characters to spin out a chase through crowded city streets and teeming tropical forests, punctuated by big explosions and hails of gunfire, to a climactic flurry of lurid fatalities. Though—except for the paucity of high-tech gadgets and a refreshing centering of a highly competent girl hero—comparisons with the Alex Rider series are almost inevitable, the author’s fondness for overexplaining never lets the pace build up a compelling head of steam. Also, his multilingual, ethnically ambiguous protagonist is so much smarter and more competent than any of the grown-ups that none of the pickles she gets into are more than briefly suspenseful.

Will appeal to readers who appreciate action-oriented tales. (Thriller. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4381-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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A thought-provoking title for sophisticated readers.

THE MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE OF AIDAN S. (AS TOLD TO HIS BROTHER)

A missing boy returns from another world. Will anyone believe his story?

When 12-year-old Aidan goes missing, his family and community members search everywhere in their small town. Things progress from worrying to terrifying when Aidan doesn’t turn up. No note. No trace. Not even a body. Six days later, Aidan’s younger brother, Lucas, finds Aidan alive in the attic they’d searched many times before. Aidan claims he was in a magical world called Aveinieu and that he got there through a dresser. While everyone around the brothers searches for answers, Lucas gets Aidan to open up about Aveinieu. Lucas, who narrates the story, grapples with the impossibility of the situation as he pieces it all together. Is any part of Aidan’s story true? YA veteran Levithan’s first foray into middle grade is a poignant tale of brotherly love and family trauma. The introspective writing, funneled through a precocious narrator, is as much about what truth means as about what happened. Though an engaging read for the way it makes readers consider and reconsider the mystery, the slow burn may deter those craving tidy resolutions. Bookish readers, however, will delight in the homages to well-known books, including When You Reach Me and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The cast defaults to White; the matter-of-fact inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters is noteworthy.

A thought-provoking title for sophisticated readers. (Mystery/fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984848-59-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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