Jewel thieves, an old mine, coded messages--these are familiar landmarks to mystery readers, but the eager ones will find them worth travelling again in this version. It all takes place in North Carolina, and there are some pleasant descriptions of local color. Paul is staying there with his aunt and uncle, recuperating from the automobile accident that crippled him and destroyed his hopes for a career in football. Helping to bring him out of his despondency is Abby, who is intent on finding some sort of treasure to finance music school. And then there is her friend Luke, who seems quite nasty but is really just reacting to his father's drunkenness and mental illness. The trio discovers that some city slicker visitors are sending each other mysterious notes wrapped up in half-smoked cigars. A geology professor, who keeps spouting the wisdom of the local rocks, pieces them together as part of a map. From this evidence the kids are able to figure out that the two visitors, disguised in tinted contact lenses, have hidden a valuable star ruby in a deserted ruby mine. There's nothing terribly puzzling, but the story is attention-holding. The author has written many books for this age level, mainly historical fiction.