Danger & Diamonds

Elizabeth Levy, illus. by Mordicai Gerstein, Roaring Brook, $14.99 (160p) ISBN 978-1-59643-462-2
Adding to her catalogue of mystery books for children, Levy (the Fletcher Mysteries) pens a high seas whodunit, first in the Mysteries at Sea series, about two preteens who live aboard a cruise ship and a famous diamond gone missing. Philippa, an Agatha Christie fan and the daughter of the ship's activities coordinators, and Philip, the new captain's son, forge a friendship as they try to figure out the motives of a pushy female passenger and her two not-so-nice nephews. Though the dialogue and plot lean toward cliché ("The fake duchess wasn't the only mystery on board. My feelings about Philip were a mystery, too"), the story maintains interest with unusual vocabulary (commodore, merengue) and vignettes about cruise ship life. Philippa's narration keeps readers guessing about Philip, who, through her eyes, fluctuates between normalcy and arrogant secrecy. Double spreads occasionally feature Gerstein's (A Book) b&w cartoon-styled line art, breaking up the action for budding chapter book readers. A predictable ending wraps up the tale, but not before a climactic seaside horseback ride. Ages 7–12. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/2010
Release date: 10/01/2010
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