San Francisco landmarks and their rich literary histories lead two friends on an urban quest to solve clues left behind in an Edgar Allan Poe book by publisher and Book Scavenger mastermind Garrison Griswold.
When Emily Crane, a book enthusiast and puzzle-solver, moves into her new apartment, she meets James Lee, a cipher-solving whiz with a cowlick he’s named Steve. For years Emily has moved from state to state with her parents and older brother, and she longs for stability. She doesn’t allow herself to get attached, unlike James, whose Chinese-American family has lived in the same apartment building for decades. When Griswold is attacked, Emily fears for his life and the future of Book Scavenger, her beloved online geocachinglike game for books. After a disappointing book hunt at the Ferry Building, Emily finds an unexpected hardcover, The Gold-Bug, near where Griswold was attacked. Believing the book is Griswold’s pre-launched game, she becomes obsessed with solving its hidden messages while dodging two thugs and risking her friendship with James. Puzzling out the clever ciphers fascinates and adds dimension and curiosity to each quest. The characters’ use of both high and low tech, such as the letter-basket pulley they set up between floors, feels refreshing. Emily’s sleuthing weaves well with her journey to nurture friendships and set down everlasting roots.
A debut that challenges the brain while warming the heart. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)