By Michael D. Beil
Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. 298 pgs. Juvenile Fiction.
What a terrific new mystery series for girls twelve and up! The cover promise--"a puzzling mystery! A mystery with puzzles!"--is amply fulfilled as the Red Blazer girls, 7th grade students at St. Veronica's Catholic school in Manhattan--use geometry, linguistics, and logic--to outsmart the villains and find the treasure. Refreshingly, the story is filled not only with wit, suspense, excitement, reading(!), and adventure but with caring parents, teachers, priests, and other strong adult role models. Religion is treated as a natural and respected part of life, and in these pages it is actually cool--and crucial to solving the puzzle--to be smart and work hard in school. Parents may wish to know that this book includes occasional minor-league swearing and the casual, careless use of the name of Deity that is common to young people these days, but on the whole, this is a smart, highly readable story with much to say about education, friendship, loyalty, and honor.