Thursday, July 19, 2012

Madhattan Mystery, Seize the Storm

Bonk, John J. Madhattan Mystery.
22 May 2012, Walker and Co.

Lexie and her brother Kevin go to New York City to stay with their Aunt Roz, a budding older actress, while their father remarries. When standing in the whispering gallery of Grand Central Station, Lexi thinks she hears a crime discussed, and then the next morning reads the news that Cleopatra's jewels have been stolen. They meet Kim, their aunt's rather strange neighbor girl who is enrolled in the same summer camp they are. When camp ends six hours earlier than they thought, the three go on adventures in the city. They meet Melrose, a homeless girl whom they hope will help them investigate an abandoned station under the city that was mentioned by the criminals. They also overhead the name Benjamin Deet's and start investigating him. When their camp counselor takes them to Grand Central Station, Lexi sees one of the men she had heard discussing the crime, and is devastated to find out, after tracking him down, that he is the director of a television show about crime which is just duplicating the real life plot. Can Lexi still manage to solve the real crime?
Strengths: This has a very strong sense of place, and much of the action of the book is about discovering the city. It was a quick read, and most of the characters were likable.
Weaknesses: The mystery didn't make a lot of sense to me. Hard to explain without giving away the ending, but Lexie didn't do that much investigating, and so much else was going on that the mystery often seemed inconsequential. My students don't ask for books about NYC, so I am not sure if I will buy this one.

Cadnum, Michael. Seize the Storm.
5 June 2012, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
I love Cadnum's work, especially his historical titles like Ship of Fire, Blood Gold, and Starfall. I also thought Flash was particularly good, but it's been a tough sell to middle school students. This might be the case for Seize the Storm as well; mature topics like marital infidelity and a lot of detail about characters slow this down, while the murderous drug runners also give me pause. This would be a great title for high school-- the cover is excellent. I'll just hope that Cadnum's next title is aimed more at middle school!

From the Publisher: "Sailing from California to Hawaii, Susannah, her family, and a crewman are driven by a vicious storm into the path of a drifting powerboat. The ghostly boat carries the bodies of two drug runners and a huge stash of money. For the sailors, stealing the sordid treasure changes everything, causing dissent and division, compromising each of them, and putting their futures at risk. Because now they are being pursued by the worst enemies imaginable, including a drug lord’s son eager to prove himself and a cold-blooded teenage hit man with murder on his mind."

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