A 12-year-old math whiz keen on solving problems tackles the case of a missing scientist.
“Mysteries are a lot like math” for Alice Jones, a no-nonsense white girl living in Philadelphia with her divorced father, a journalist. Alice likes “figuring things out,” so when classmate Sammy Delgado invites her to attend the announcement of an important invention developed at his wealthy father’s scientific laboratory, she’s intrigued, especially when Dr. Learner, lead researcher on the new invention (rumored to be an invisibility suit), vanishes. Sammy convinces his father to enlist Alice’s help finding Learner. But Mr. Delgado confides he wants Alice to pretend to be searching for Learner to keep the story in the papers, even though he doesn’t really expect her to find him. Determined to surprise Mr. Delgado and crack the case, Alice accepts his offer. When surveillance cameras show Learner entered his lab but never left it, Alice refuses to believe he used an invisibility suit. As the deliberately paced plot unwinds, the case becomes increasingly puzzling—and dangerous after Alice discovers thugs from a rival lab are following her. Throughout, Alice perseveres, narrating her story with the logic, poise, and determination of a seasoned detective. (Aside from dark hair and his Spanish last name, Sammy’s ethnicity is not indicated.)
A perplexing mystery with a savvy sleuth and unexpected outcome. (Mystery. 8-12)