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Here is the second Minerva Clark mystery. In the first one, we met a middle-school sleuth whose family consists of three older brothers, since their divorced parents are never around; whose best friends are a walking encyclopedia named Reggie and a rascally ferret named Jupiter; and whom a powerful electric shock liberated from the insecurities and self-image problems that plague teenage girls. What better person so solve a murder and break up an identity-theft ring? Who would expect so much of a frizzy-haired kid?
Now Minerva has a new mystery to solve. The second-prettiest girl in her class cries out for help when she unwittingly sells a priceless diamond for $50. Was it Chelsea’s fault that her tax-evading, jeweler father swapped out the fake gem on her cheap cameo ring? Minerva takes the case, and proves how much trouble an inconspicuous kid can make for criminals.
Making full use of her city’s public transit system, Minerva follows a trail of clues from the airport to the animal shelter, stopping by an on-location movie shoot along the way. She gets hoodwinked, chloroformed, held hostage, and threatened with a gun. She makes creative use of what she learned on Day One of a summer course in basic electronics. She also learns to appreciate the graphic on her Green Day T-shirt, illustrating the idea that “the heart is a hand grenade.” In one week, Minerva falls in love with a dog, writhes with impatience as her best friend is too busy being lovestruck to spend time with her, experiences the agony of not hearing a word from her first almost-boyfriend, and worries about an upcoming visit by her flighty Mom. It’s all in a week’s work for Portland, Oregon’s smartest mouth.
Kidding aside, this is a fun book that should go down well with teen mystery lovers. Filled with quirky characters, droll humor, and family-safe scenes of danger and mischief, it also models an attitude toward beauty and style that could be very healthy for many young women – provided they don’t need a powerful electric shock to adopt it. Read it, and if you agree you may also want to look out for the third book in this series, Minerva Clark Gives Up the Ghost.