A frenetic dash across Europe that leads both to hidden treasure and the resolution of a 1,600-year-old mystery brings Newsome’s once-promising trilogy to a muddled, heavily contrived close.
Framed for the (supposed) murder of archenemy Sir Mason Green, jumped-up preteen billionaire Gerald Wilkins and his twin sidekicks Sam and Ruby are on the run. They repeatedly escape police and a beautiful poisoner while following a trail of baroque clues that take the three from an ossuary deep within Mont Saint-Michel to Grecian Delphi. This, improbably, turns out to have been secretly roofed over beneath fake ruins centuries ago to protect its fabled treasures and still-functional oracle. Newsome seems far more intent on chivvying his characters along than in setting any credible challenges for them. He pitches the trio through one chase scene or rescue after another, giving them easy access everywhere by leading them directly to a series of conveniently discovered open doors and cave entrances. All is revealed in a climactic subterranean faceoff during which the (surprise, surprise) still-living Green explains his nefarious purposes in great detail, before Gerald knocks him unconscious and expedites the death of his pet assassin.
Occasional jokey dialogue won’t be enough to carry readers over a story riddled with logical gaps, extraneous characters, massive coincidences and laboriously fabricated suspense. Illustrations not seen. (Adventure. 11-14)