cover image The Name of the Game Was Murder

The Name of the Game Was Murder

Joan Lowery Nixon. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $15 (182pp) ISBN 978-0-385-30864-9

Agatha Christie fans will be quick to recognize the set-up of this surprisingly creaky offering from veteran Nixon ( The Dark and Deadly Pool ; A Candidate for Murder ). Augustus Trevor, a mean-spirited bestselling author, is throwing a weekend party at his mansion on a remote part of Santa Catalina Island. When his high-profile guests (a senator, a former football star, a fashion designer, a movie star and a romance novelist) assemble, Trevor announces his nasty (and rather far-fetched) weekend plans: all will participate in a treasure hunt to locate the unpublished manuscript of the crabby wordsmith's latest book, which reveals the various ugly secrets lurking in his guests' pasts. Predictably enough, the obnoxious author is found murdered just hours after outlining his agenda, leaving his glitzy victims frantic to find the missing manuscript. The celebrities are inexplicably dim, but fortunately Trevor's great-niece Samantha--a plucky aspiring writer and amateur cryptologist--is on hand to help them unravel what turns out to be a fairly obvious mystery. Shallow and disappointing. Ages 12-up. (May)