Thursday, July 2, 2009

Review: Susan Runholt Introduces Kari + Lucas Mystery Series for Ages 10-14

The Mystery of the Third Lucretia
A Kari + Lucas Mystery
By Susan Runholt
Puffin Books
ISBN: 9780142413388
278 Pages

One advantage of being a book reviewer is that you can legitimately read books that may be for the “younger” reader. For me, a good mystery is a good mystery and I’m going to enjoy it! And Susan Runholt’s new series is not only good—it’s amazingly fresh and entertaining!

Gillian Sundgren travels to cover the arts and cultural world for magazines. Her daughter Kari and Kari’s best friend, Lucas Stickney, have the opportunity to travel with her on some trips. Both Kari and Lucas are 14 and have a real interest in developing their artistic skills. In fact, it was while taking a summer class at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts where they first saw “him.”

He was there at the Art Institute. They had gone into the Rembrandt room for a short tour when they saw this older man painting in front of a special exhibit that was taking place showing Rembrandt’s two “Lucretia” paintings together—one had been loaned by another museum for this special show. Both Kari and Lucas especially liked the two paintings and the story behind them, since Lucretia was a young girl when she committed suicide. Curiosity compelled the girls to see what the old man was working on, but when Kari approached, he loudly proclaimed, “Go a-way!”

Well, we could say that the man really did have a right to say that, but for Kari, it was downright rude and she remembered the slight! Especially when she heard it again as another artist used the same phrase to a younger child—only this time, Kari heard it when they were in London!

Kari and Lucas make a good team—Lucas has a photographic memory and remains calm in most situations; Kari has intuitive feelings along with her artistic abilities. So when Kari had thought there was something suspicious about the man, Lucas used her photographic memory to verify that “both” men were the same—and they just had to find out what he was working on, knowing that it probably had something to do with art forgery!

These two girls used disguises, cameras, and sketches to gather information and even go into dangerous situations to support their growing evidence. Once they did, they got Kari’s mother involved...but the situation was getting more and more dangerous—for all of them!

Readers will quickly declare this book a “Nancy Drew” type; however, the inclusion of a considerable amount of information about the cultural world in which they travel makes the series a learning experience as well! A must-read for ages 10-14 (and above, for great mystery lovers!)

G. A. Bixler