The Mastermind Plot
Review: Suzanna "Zanna" Snow has been invited from her home in New Brunswick to spend two months with her Grandmother in Boston and couldn't be more excited. Boston is also the home to her uncle, the famous detective Bruce Snow, from whom she hopes to learn more about, well, detecting. But her Grandmother enrolls her in a private school for girls instead, dashing her hopes of following Uncle Bruce around on his latest case, a string of arsons along the city's waterfront, in The Mastermind Plot, the second mystery for young adults in this series by Angie Frazier.
Detective Rule: Never overlook the smallest details. They will often lead to the biggest clues.
Zanna quickly seeks out Uncle Bruce's apprentice, a young man named Will James, who she met during her first case the previous summer. Will fills her in on the details surrounding the arson investigation, but then suggests the crimes may simply be red herrings. "[I]nstead of investigating arson, the police should be investigating art theft." It turns out that the owner of the buildings set ablaze is also a collector of artworks, and though some paintings are presumed to have been consumed by fire, possibly they were stolen first. This is all Zanna needs to pique her interest further, a case where she might — once again — prove that her abilities as a detective exceed those of her uncle.
Detective Rule: Lying is wrong. However, weaving an intricate excuse in a time of need is oftentimes acceptable.
Each chapter in this mystery is preceded by Zanna's thoughts and observations, sometimes a "detective rule", sometimes a to-do list, sometimes just a status report. It not only helps keep Zanna focused, but is also a clever way of keeping the reader engaged in the story. Zanna is resourceful in tracking down clues, but in a way appropriate to both her age and the time period of early Fall, 1904. That she's a newcomer to Boston and is unfamiliar with life in the big city adds an endearing layer of vulnerability to her character. Not that it slows her down in the slightest!
The Mastermind Plot is an entertaining whodunit-style mystery, one that will probably appeal on the surface more to girls than boys though there is absolutely nothing that would prevent the latter from enjoying it just as much.
As of the date of this review, a Lexile measure has not been assigned for this book, though the first in the series is marked as 800L and the present book seems to be comparable. The publisher labels the book as appropriate for Grades 3 through 7, though the relative complexity of the storyline suggests it may be more fitting for the older end of this range.
Acknowledgment: Scholastic provided a copy of The Mastermind Plot for this review.
Review Copyright © 2012 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The Midnight Tunnel
Scholastic (Hardcover), March 2011
ISBN-13: 9780545208628; ISBN-10: 0545208629
Location(s) referenced in The Mastermind Plot: Boston, Massachusetts
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The Mastermind Plot by Angie Frazier — A Suzanna Snow Mystery
Publication Date: March 2012
List Price: $16.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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