An entertaining adventure that blends several tantalizing ingredients.

PARIS SECRETS

From the Jake McGreevy series , Vol. 3

In this YA novel, best friends collaborate in a Parisian baking contest while they track down the story behind a family photograph.

Book 1 of this series saw Jake McGreevy going on a treasure hunt in Ireland. In the sequel, Jake teamed up with friends to investigate his mother’s death and a missing masterpiece. Now, it’s spring break 2013, and Jake and his best friend, Ben Meyers, both 15, are flying to Paris to participate in an international televised baking contest for teenagers at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. They also hope to research an old photo likely taken in Paris that belonged to Jake’s mother. The search leads them to Esther Shneyer, a sister of Jake’s late grandmother. Esther tells them the family was separated during the Holocaust. Esther’s mother, Dahlia, sent her three girls to safety while she remained behind to hide the treasured possessions of families that had fled or been deported. The photo includes a clue to the hiding place, so the boys hope to discover the heirlooms’ whereabouts in between competitions. They gain some allies, including Esther’s granddaughter Sophie Lévy and Heather Baker, a fellow contestant, but face opposition from suspicious gendarmes. Will the boys’ ingenuity—as bakers or detectives—pay off? In his third series installment, Vogel offers several strong hooks. The story’s tragic historical background is dramatic and includes tales of inspiring heroism while also shedding new light on Jake’s complicated family, a throughline in the series. “I thought I was just Irish, and now I might be French and Jewish, too,” he muses. Suspenseful action scenes take readers through the sights of Paris while the baking contest is lighthearted fun, with mouthwatering descriptions of treats and some slapstick (Jake always manages to spill something on Heather).

An entertaining adventure that blends several tantalizing ingredients.

Pub Date: May 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-9850814-3-0

Page Count: 171

Publisher: MB Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2021

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Only marginally intriguing.

REDEMPTION PREP

In a remote part of Utah, in a “temple of excellence,” the best of the best are recruited to nurture their talents.

Redemption Preparatory is a cross between the Vatican and a top-secret research facility: The school is rooted in Christian ideology (but very few students are Christian), Mass is compulsory, cameras capture everything, and “maintenance” workers carry Tasers. When talented poet Emma disappears, three students, distrusting of the school administration, launch their own investigation. Brilliant chemist Neesha believes Emma has run away to avoid taking the heat for the duo’s illegal drug enterprise. Her boyfriend, an athlete called Aiden, naturally wants to find her. Evan, a chess prodigy who relies on patterns and has difficulty processing social signals, believes he knows Emma better than anyone. While the school is an insidious character on its own and the big reveal is slightly psychologically disturbing, Evan’s positioning as a tragic hero with an uncertain fate—which is connected to his stalking of Emma (even before her disappearance)—is far more unsettling. The ’90s setting provides the backdrop for tongue-in-cheek technological references but doesn’t do anything for the plot. Student testimonials and voice-to-text transcripts punctuate the three-way third-person narration that alternates among Neesha, Evan, and Aiden. Emma, Aiden, and Evan are assumed to be white; Neesha is Indian. Students are from all over the world, including Asia and the Middle East.

Only marginally intriguing. (Mystery. 15-18)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266203-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A suspenseful mystery diminished by outdated gender stereotypes.

THE MURDER GAME

A murder in a boarding school leads a teen sleuth down a dangerous path.

When Luke and his roommate, Oscar, snuck out of their dorm room after hours to hook up with two girls in the woods, they did not expect to get involved in a murder. Dean Heckler’s young wife’s body is found the morning after, near the place the teens were hanging out. Fear of being expelled prevents them from confessing their presence around the time of the murder—but when Oscar becomes a suspect, Luke starts his own investigation to prove his best friend’s innocence. Fortunately, three years earlier Luke had escaped a kidnapping using survival skills learned from his former–POW grandfather, the same skills he now needs if he wants to find the true murderer and get out of this situation alive. This whodunit has enough twists and red herrings to make for an intriguing mystery if readers are prepared to suspend disbelief at how frequently adult characters act with implausible negligence. The book is also weighed down by a haze of misogyny when describing both girls at the school as well as the murdered woman, who remains a vapid, one-note seductress throughout. Luke’s vague and perfunctory attempts at challenging his male friends in their sexist views are not enough to clear the chauvinist miasma. Main characters are White.

A suspenseful mystery diminished by outdated gender stereotypes. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-229-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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