“Naturally nosy,” Maisie Hitchins reprises her role as amateur detective in The Case of the Stolen Sixpence (2014) to tackle the disappearance of a priceless emerald necklace from a London theater.
Maisie adores solving mysteries, but nothing even slightly mysterious has happened for ages at her grandmother’s boardinghouse until actress Lottie Lane asks for Maisie’s help. Lottie’s friend, popular new actress Lila Massey, has discovered the necklace her titled fiance gave her is really the Stone of Saint Cecilia, a family heirloom reputed to bring disaster to its owner if lost. After the necklace disappears, Lila’s afraid to tell her fiance and is convinced she’s cursed. The victim of a series of dangerous pranks, a distracted Lila’s close to losing her leading role. Thrilled to have a real case to solve, Maisie works undercover as Lila’s dresser at the theater, where she realizes someone’s trying to get Lila fired. But did the same person steal the necklace? With help from her canine sidekick, Eddie, clearheaded Maisie pieces together clues amid backstage intrigue. Precise linear illustrations emphasize period décor and costume while rendering Maisie with a wide-eyed innocence, belying her true mettle.
Though it’s a tad formulaic, Maisie’s second mystery offers middle-grade readers colorful characters, a theatrical setting and a plucky heroine. (Mystery. 9-12)