In his third caper, a young New York sleuth with a photographic memory finds himself a target for revenge.
The appearance of fake bombs with cryptic—encrypted, as it turns out—messages for him at landmarks around the city tells Eddie that Lars, the international art thief stymied in Mystery on Museum Mile (2014), is back for a new heist and a spot of payback. And, rather than keeping Eddie in the loop, both his gorgeous new FBI bodyguard and surly police contact are steadfastly stonewalling him in order, they insist, to keep him safe. It doesn’t work, as, enlisting his ADHD computer-whiz sidekick, Jonah, to hack police files, Eddie gathers clues, solves codes, and by the climax has sketched out photorealistic portraits (supplied by Calo) of Lars and his entire gang. As with Volume 2, Mystery in Mayan Mexico (2015), Wells spins both a heavily contrived body of evidence and a coincidence-driven plotline. Since both the theft and subsequent arrests take place offstage, the actual crime fighting seems almost incidental to Eddie’s personal dramas. Still, the lad uses skills and smarts in credible ways to nab the bad guys, and the climax’s drama is enhanced by some narrowly averted violence. A new character, possibly Lars’ daughter, slips through the net to set up future cases.
A shelf below Blue Balliett’s art- and code-themed mysteries, but Encyclopedia Brown fans will enjoy following the detective work. (cryptography note) (Mystery. 9-11)