Thursday, April 18, 2019

The North Star (The Gemini Mysteries #1)

Shepherd, Kat. The North Star (The Gemini Mysteries #1)
Published March 5th 2019 by Yellow Jacket
Public Library Copy

Zach and Evie Mamuya's mother is an investigative reporter in Minneapolis, so they get dragged along to a burglary at Sophie's house. Sophie's parents are great philanthropists, and they have allowed her to auction off a family heirloom, the North Star diamonds, the raise money to help the gibbons at the zoo. The necklace goes missing at the pre-auction showing party, and that's when Zach, Evie and their friend Vishal arrive. They meet Sophie in the garden, and the four start to investigate. They find things out of place, information about the safe from which the necklace was stolen, and uncover activities of key suspects the police aren't really even investigating. They pay special attention to Sophie's great aunt Marguerite, especially her much younger tennis pro boyfriend and newly hired servant, Derek. They also investigate Gideon, whose activities seem very suspicious. Luckily, the group's investigations help the police run the criminal to earth, and Sophie is able to auction the necklace off.
Strengths: I love the cover, and the interior illustration are great and add a lot to the story. I miss spot illustrations like the ones widely employed in the 1950s-- the books of Cleary, Eager, McCloskey, Norton, and Robertson all had them. Sophie's altruism is great, and while her family has a lot of money, she works on being accessible to her new friends (even though she has her own driver). The police look a bit incompetent (even though the Mamuya's father was one), and the children, of course, save the day.
Weaknesses: Apparently, I watched WAY too much Scooby Doo as a child; doesn't Sophie on the cover look a little like Velma? The cast of characters is right out of an episode (Tennis pro gold digger? Manservant? Great aunt who is all of about 50 who is channeling old women movie characters of the 1940s?), there's a diamond necklace (okay, it was a good explanation, but how many kids' families just have those lying around?), and the chapters had James Patterson-like cliff hanger endings that made me think the next chapter would start with someone saying "Jinkies!" These elements are employed in Lewis' Club CSI Mysteries, and my students like them, so clearly their parents shielded them from Shaggy and Scooby more than mine did, and they won't care!
What I really think: I definitely need more mysteries, and the cover of this one is great and the illustration is more teen than elementary. This will work well for reader's of the new Nancy Drew Diaries and Phoebe River's SaraNormal, although the cover will also appeal to boys a bit more than those titles do. Will probably purchase, along with the sequel that comes out in December, The Cat's Paw.
Ms. Yingling


  1. Thanks for the recommendation! My daughter is interested in both mysteries and journalism, so I'm adding it to her list (though I suspect it's a bit higher than her reading level just now).

  2. I'm intrigued by this, and I'll admit it's partly because I've only seen a few Scooby episodes so it would probably be relatively fresh for me. Thanks for the recommendation!