A photographic memory and a best bud with OCD help a young sleuth nab a gang of art thieves in this effervescent debut.
The pressure’s on: With his librarian father laid off, it looks like 11-year-old Edmund will have to transfer out of his exclusive prep school—until he leverages his spectacular memory and eye for detail into a part-time police gig staking out New York art museums threatened by the mysterious Picasso Gang in exchange for tuition. But not only is his relationship with crusty veteran Detective Frank Bovano, “a tough loaf of old and angry Italian bread,” on the rocks (particularly after the Taser incident), but the department is about to close the whole investigation down for lack of progress. Eddie Red is a smart, likable narrator with credible thought processes and an impulsive streak that drives the safety-minded adults around him crazy. Though the New York setting is sketchy at best, Wells outfits her voluble narrator with a lively supporting cast led by his close if relentlessly hyper friend Jonah, who comes up with the breakthrough insight, and a fluent plotline that leads to a bullets-flying climax. Calo provides accomplished, lightly caricatured portraits of all the main characters, plus a quick course in drawing faces at the end.
A sure pleaser for Cam Jansen grads or anyone fond of knotty, lightweight capers solved with brainpower (and a little luck). (Mystery. 9-11)