MINERVA CLARK GOES TO THE DOGS

Her dad is always out of town on business, and her mother left with her boyfriend to teach yoga in Santa Fe, so Minerva is being raised by her three older brothers. A self-reliant expert on figuring things out, she is, in fact, a mystery solver. In the second of a projected series, a classmate of Minerva’s calls for help in finding a rare red diamond stolen from her ring. Corgi dogs, homing pigeons, an electronics class, Catholic school, kidnapping and a movie set aid and abet the tangled plot. Lots of IMing, cell phones and contemporary props keep the story current. References to actions in Minerva Gets a Clue (2005) fill in bits of background, but this title can stand on its own. Unfortunately, while the cover photo of a cute Corgi is appealing, it also may lead readers to think that the dog is Minerva. But this fairly typical teenager will take her place next to Nancy Drew as a prime crime case-cracker. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58234-678-X

Page Count: 244

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2006

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Likely to sell in spades but a slipshod, slapdash outing from co-authors who usually have higher standards.

BEST NERDS FOREVER

Two young ghosts with unfinished business in this world join forces.

Eighth grade cyclist Finn McAllister decides to undertake a search for the supposedly crazed driver who forced him off the road and over a cliff to his death, but he spends far more of his time attending his own funeral, hovering near his grieving family and his four besties to overhear conversations, and floating through school—skipping the girls’ restroom because he still has somestandards—and positively hammering on the realization that wasting any of life’s opportunities can only lead to regret. He discovers that he can still taste ice cream, smell farts, skip stones in the local lake, and use a TV remote. He can also share thoughts with both the living and with Isabella Rojas, the ghost of a classmate who vanished several months previously but is still hanging around, although she is not sure why. Eventually, in a massively contrived climax that leaves both souls ready to move on, Finn comes up with a scheme to produce proof of Isabella’s death to bring closure to her mother and also absolves his hit-and-run driver of fault (for a reason readers will see coming). In this outing, the usually dynamic duo throws together an aimless ramble around a set of flimsy mysteries that fail to coalesce. Finn reads as White; Isabella is cued as Latinx. Final illustrations not seen.

Likely to sell in spades but a slipshod, slapdash outing from co-authors who usually have higher standards. (Paranormal fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-50024-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2021

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Rattles along to thrill-a-minute tracks, but the series shows signs of losing steam.

CHARLIE THORNE AND THE CURSE OF CLEOPATRA

From the Charlie Thorne series , Vol. 3

How better to celebrate a 13th birthday than by following clues to a priceless treasure hidden for more than 2,000 years while being hotly pursued by armed thugs and Black Ops units?

Still by far the smartest person in every room she enters, Charlie continues her quest to track down the world’s greatest treasures while keeping herself and the fantastically dangerous formula only she knows out of the hands of an increasing number of intelligence agencies and other bad actors. A bit of ancient steganography sends her, with her half brother, Dante, and his partner, Milana, both CIA agents, from Giza to the Acropolis, the Roman Forum and then the Metropolitan Museum of Art—for, at each stop, a new clue or artifact paired to heavy infodumps about the locale’s historical and archaeological highlights. Not to mention one or more ambushes with, occasionally, gunfire, one or more high-speed chases (including one in a chariot, which is at least different), and chances for Charlie’s overachieving sidekicks each to take out entire squads of gunmen sent by the Israeli Mossad, the Egyptian Mukhabarat, an Egyptian billionaire, and even the CIA. The prize turns out to be worth the kerfuffle, but even though this is only the third episode, the plot is all manufactured action strung together with mechanical predictability. The characterizations are equally facile. Multiracial Charlie is described as having globally diverse racial origins.

Rattles along to thrill-a-minute tracks, but the series shows signs of losing steam. (Action adventure. 10-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-9934-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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