Friday, July 20, 2012

Review: The Mastermind Plot

Author: Angie Frazier
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Release Date: March 1, 2012
Pages: 240
Source: Library
Why I read it: I read the first book in the series.
Summary (from Goodreads): A new, exciting Suzanna Snow adventure!Suzanna "Zanna" Snow can hardly believe her luck: She's just arrived in Boston, the city she's wanted to visit for as long as she can remember. Think of all the mysteries waiting to be solved here! Her grandmother and cousin, Will, welcome her warmly, but her famous detective uncle, Bruce Snow, seems anything but pleased. He doesn't want Zanna meddling in his current case involving a string of mysterious warehouse fires along the harbor front. But Zanna can't help herself. Is someone setting the fires? Just when she thinks she's on to something, a strange man starts following her. Is he a threat? Zanna needs to solve the case before she has the chance to find out.

What I thought: This is the second book in the Suzanna Snow series of mysteries. I feel like these books barely get mentioned on the internet, and I wish more people read them. I read the first one a while ago, so I can not remember all the plot details, especially the mystery, but I do remember the characters. Zanna is a great character. She's very plucky, curious and resourceful, very much an Edwardian Nancy Drew. While she is very plucky, I think she is also true to the time she lives in. She realizes that she is restrained by being a girl, but manages to work within these boundaries, even though she is forced into a girl's school along with other social restrainments she experiences. 

I also like, in this book and in the former, the dynamics between Zanna and the adults around her. While Zanna is obviously the most memorable character, I think her Uncle Bruce is the second most memorable character. He obviously does not think highly of children and is very dismissive of Zanna, which frustrates Zanna, as well as many other characters. And it frustrates me! Especially when Zanna was originally a big admirer of her uncle. An underlying theme to the series is the interaction between adults and children, and how children are easily dismissed and not believed. This is a typical theme for children's books, especially middle grade. Middle grade readers, and Zanna are frustrated by the adults, but the readers can see how Zanna is able to deal with this.

I enjoyed the book. It is a quick, light read, but I found the mystery a little easy to figure out, which is also how I felt about the first book in the series. I rarely am able to "figure out" the mystery while reading mystery books, but with both of these books, I figured it out pretty quickly. These are middle grade books, and I do not think they should be or are dumbed down, but I think this has made the mystery a little too simplistic for me. Maybe Nancy Drew was this way, too. It has been so long since I've read them that I cannot remember!

I read another review that commented that Zanna stumbled onto the solution of the mystery in comparison to the first book. As I wrote before, I don't remember all the details of the mystery from the previous book, but I find the other reviewer's comments to be true. I feel like Zanna did not put all the pieces of the puzzle together and was almost there when she walks into the resolution. I wish she had figured it out on her own, before being told the who, what and why.

I was a little surprised by the big twist at the end involving the strange man who was following Zanna. I don't want to reveal the twist, but I am interested to see where the author goes with this twist in subsequent books. It could add a very interesting dynamic to the story.

Overall, I find this series to be enjoyable, and I like the characters. I will continue reading the rest of the series

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