A rash of pranks at an exclusive private school leads two young detectives all the way to the White House.
Ponti positively shovels clues, secrets, coded messages, potential suspects, red herrings, distractions, and side mysteries, not to mention dazzling feats of deduction, into this second caper featuring white middle school sleuth Florian “Young Sherlock” Bates, his tough-minded and often equally acute BF Margaret, and their FBI supervisor, Marcus (both of the latter African-American). Posing as transfer students and enjoined to identify the culprit as circumspectly as possible, Florian and Margaret find their work cut out for them as not only does the school’s headmaster have something to hide, but Lucy Mays, a white girl and the daughter of the president of the U.S., and also widely renowned Chinese musical prodigy Yin Yae are on the list of potential suspects. The stakes rise sky high when Yin vanishes partway through a performance at the Kennedy Center. Is it another prank? A kidnapping? Or is he defecting, with—a diplomatic disaster in the making—Lucy’s help? As in Framed! (2016), fast brain- and footwork saves the day at the last moment, but watching Florian wow everyone, including Lucy’s dad, with Holmes-style connecting of dots along the way is just as satisfying.
A splendid whodunit: cerebral, exhilarating, low in violence, methodical in construction, and occasionally hilarious. (Mystery. 11-13)