This first of a series delivers a splendid story of four youths on a code-breaking spree.
Cody and her three buddies comprise an exclusive club revolving around studying and creating codes. It’s all in fun, but things amp up to intense when Cody and Quinn spy two lurking strangers at Mr. Skelton’s creepy old house. Cody awakens the next morning to find Mr. Skelton’s house in flames and an ambulance taking him to the hospital. Cody then notices symbols drawn on an upstairs windowpane. As the club members investigate the charred house and each new clue leads to the next, they find cryptic messages that lead them repeatedly to one of Mr. Skelton’s many cats and possibly to hidden treasure. Moreover, the strangers, calling themselves cousins of Mr. Skelton, are clearly looking for something in the old man’s house and begin to appear capable of treachery well beyond robbery. Adding depth to an already smart, fast-paced mystery, a resonant back story reveals that Cody’s parents have recently divorced and that her little sister is deaf. Readers are active participants in the momentum and are frequently invited to solve classic forms of code, such as Morse and semaphores.This intriguing tale has vivid characters and such a tantalizing cliffhanger that the readers won’t be able to resist cracking the next Code Busters. (code keys and solutions) (Mystery. 8-12)