Fifteen-year-old Jake McGreevy stumbles into an art-world mystery in Vogel’s (Celtic Run, 2012) middle-grade novel, the second featuring teen gadget buff Jake McGreevy.
Jake and his two best friends, Julie and Ben, take a holiday trip to a performing arts camp in Chicago. Because his art historian mother died 13 years earlier in Chicago, Jake also plans to use the trip as an opportunity to learn more about her. As he wistfully reads through his mother’s old notebook, Jake uncovers clues as to what really happened to her. She was inspecting a recently discovered mural—believed to have been painted by Mary Cassatt—and shortly after she began expressing doubts about the work, she was hit by a drunken driver. Her notes, however, indicate that there may have been something more sinister at work in her death. Jake, Julie, Ben and their new friend, Natalie, set out to learn the truth about Jake’s mother and about the Cassatt mural. During their search, tidbits about the 1893 World’s Fair, Chicago’s architecture and the science behind Jake’s gadgets are woven smoothly into the story. Meanwhile, the kids explore the historic city, get to know residents of a local retirement home, hoodwink the strict dean of their camp, and navigate the ups and downs of teenage life. Jake is a likable and sympathetic hero—intelligent but impulsive, easygoing and funny with his pals but a little nervous with girls. His friends are well-developed, creating a fun cast of secondary characters as well as a strong support system for Jake. Many scenes are set in famous Chicago landmarks, including a thrilling chase sequence in the Museum of Science and Industry and a suspenseful moment in Macy’s Walnut Room that kicks off the story’s action-packed climax. It’s not necessary to read the first Jake McGreevy book in order to follow this one, but readers who enjoy Jake’s Chicago adventures will likely want to pick up the earlier novel as well.
A rollicking, fun mystery with a young, charismatic hero.