Two kids race around a city on a wintry night, tangling with elite operatives and foiling a crime they don’t understand.
In contemporary Washington, D.C., an unidentified man tries to evade goons in a parking garage. A roughly-12-year-old boy sits on a bench in the National Gallery of Art, alone, struck with amnesia. (This amnesia’s a plot device, not psychological realism.) Art—his name?—knows nothing about himself but everything about art history. Criminal mastermind Dorchek Palmer and his highly skilled covert criminal operatives will do anything to protect their sale of a forged van Gogh, including hacking and erasing security footage across the city—and kidnapping Art and 10-year-old Camille, Art’s friend from emergency-placement foster care. Narrative perspective bounces among the kids, Dorchek, and Dorchek’s team. The kids display plenty of ingenuity (spray your kidnapper’s stun gun with a shaken can of Coke!), but they don’t know Art’s identity or what’s going on. Readers, tantalizingly, know some things but not others: what’s the spider that Dorchek seeks to destroy? Who is Art? Integrated QR codes allow readers with access to a device/smartphone to view artwork by van Gogh, Degas, and other artists at relevant moments. Art and Camille are white, as are most other characters.
A suspenseful mystery romp with art appreciation and heartening trust in readers’ intelligence. (map, author’s note) (Mystery. 10-14)