The Secret Cellar
Review: When Sophie St. Pierre purchases a fountain pen as a present to her father from the estate of Curtis Dedmann, a local eccentric and recluse who has recently passed away, she unknowingly sets into motion a sequence of events that takes the Red Blazer Girls on a wild chase for … well, they're not exactly sure what they're looking for, which is part of the mystery here … in The Secret Cellar, the fourth mystery in this series for young adults by Michael D. Beil.
After successfully acquiring the pen at auction, Sophie discovers a small piece of paper hidden inside, with a very strange poem written on it:
Mighty Hector; Caesar; and he,
Worthy men of antiquity,
Are but the first of trios three.
This sheet, aligned on the page
that begins the tale of his age,
Reveals advice that is truly sage.
A strange riddle, indeed. Sophie and her friends set out to solve it, only to discover the answer lies in a secret cellar beneath Dedmann's house, the entry to which also requires a puzzle to be solved.
Readers are more likely to follow along than play along with the Red Blazer Girls as they gather together the necessary, if also rather odd assortment of, items required to gain entry into the cellar. About two-thirds of the way through, Sophie turns to the reader and says, "[I]t's your turn — time for you to earn your own red blazer. … At your disposal is an imaginary tote bag with a container of homemade Play-Doh, a bottle of fake 1949 Château Latour, a tube of epoxy, and a kidnapped rat — exactly the same tools that we have." The solution plays out in the subsequent chapters. The Secret Cellar is a dynamic, exciting entry in this series, but one which includes puzzles and clues that seem awfully esoteric, possibly well beyond the knowledge (or interest) of the intended audience.
This book has been assigned a Lexile measure of 720L; the publisher recommends it for readers aged 10 and older.
Acknowledgment: Random House provided a copy of The Secret Cellar for this review.
Review Copyright © 2013 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The Mistaken Masterpiece
Knopf (Hardcover), June 2011
ISBN-13: 9780375867408; ISBN-10: 0375867406
Location(s) referenced in The Secret Cellar: New York City
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The Secret Cellar by Michael D. Beil — A Red Blazer Girls Mystery
Publication Date: October 2012
List Price: $17.99