Three middle school friends try to figure out who abused a zorse (horse/zebra cross) and why the owner’s adult son is so eager to get him back.
Faster paced and more involving than the series opener, the second Curious Cat Spy Club mystery gives Kelsey, Becca, and Leo, three classmates who have joined forces to protect animals and solve mysteries, another opportunity to use their smarts and cement their unlikely but believable friendship. The characters, though lightly sketched, are clearly differentiated. Kelsey, the lead protagonist and narrator, is so quiet she’s almost invisible to others, which gives her excellent cover to pursue her hobby of collecting secrets. Cheerful (at least on the surface) and outgoing Becca, whose divorced mother runs the Wild Oaks Sanctuary for animals, hangs with the popular girls, or Sparklers, and Leo is a whiz-kid loner. The plot kicks into gear when Caleb Hunter, a charming horse trainer, tries to claim Zed, the once-abused zorse now living at the sanctuary, along with Zed’s sparkly netted fly mask. After some slightly off-the-main-track plot twists and turns, the kids locate and reclaim the mask. But their suspicion of Caleb increases, culminating in a jeopardy-infused, suspenseful climax.
This is straight-up series fiction, but it’s well-done, and mystery aficionados, especially those who love animals, will find it entertaining and enjoyable. (Mystery. 8-12)