Fresh from solving The Vanishing Violin (2010) mystery, seventh-grade amateur sleuths and best friends Sophie, Margaret, Rebecca and Leigh Ann of St. Veronica’s all-girl’s school in Manhattan tackle two new cases.
This third installment opens with Sophie receiving a broken nose after “accidentally” colliding with arch-rival Livvy at swim practice. When Sophie’s dad arranges for the Red Blazer girls to spend a day with teen idol Nate Etan on his movie set, Sophie agrees to be his dog sitter. The pace accelerates after Father Julian enlists the Red Blazer Girls Detective Agency to tackle two cases. The first involves determining which of two seemingly identical baseballs autographed by the New York Yankees 1928 starting line-up is real. Surprisingly, Nate’s dog helps unravel this one. The second case concerns a painting that could be valuable if the girls can prove it was painted before 1961. As Sophie balances dog-sitting, school, performing in The Blazers band, swim team, worrying about boyfriend Raf and troubling encounters with Livvy, she and her pals piece together the increasingly complex painting puzzle in a frenzied finale. As usual, Sophie narrates with humor and self-effacing aplomb. Visual evidence inserted in the text invites reader participation.
While this caper proves less brain-teasing and exciting than its predecessors, the four (soon to be five?) Red Blazer gals still rock. (Mystery. 10-14)