A jewelry heist, an abrasive new friend and the Big Apple itself carry a young visitor through lingering grief-related issues in this engaging, if thematically crowded outing.
Lexi and her little brother Kevin are spending the summer in New York City with their aunt while their father honeymoons with his new wife. Hardly does Lexi step off the train in bustling Grand Central Station than her purse—holding treasured mementos of her mother, two years dead—is snatched. She overhears a suspicious conversation in the station’s Whispering Gallery about jewels before being whirled off to her aunt’s West Side apartment house to meet the super’s hyper daughter, Kim Ling Levine. Electrified by news that gems destined for an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art have disappeared, Lexi shares the aforementioned conversation with Kim Ling. She is only half-unwillingly dragged into an investigation that takes the young sleuths on a tour of Manhattan, from the Met and Central Park to some of Grand Central’s darker corners. Bonk casts and contrasts his sparky characters deftly. He good-humoredly portrays Kim (purple haired, and loud of both mouth and clothing) as a stereotypical New Yorker and Lexi as a quiet brooder who is nonetheless capable of holding up her end of a tumultuous relationship. Her new personal insights and the adventure itself ultimately work to thaw her frozen emotional state. Superfluous flashbacks and an extraneous subplot involving the rehabilitation of a teenage runaway are just distractions on the way to a boisterous happy ending.
A pleaser for fans of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1967) and like New York odysseys. (Mystery. 11-13)