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The Mastermind Plot

Review

The Mastermind Plot

September 1904 promises exciting adventures for 11-year-old Suzanna "Zanna" Snow, who boards the train and travels from her remote hometown in Canada to the bustling city of Boston to visit her grandmother. She has never been to Boston before and hardly remembers the grandmother whom she hasn’t seen in years, but she knows the trip will be special, and promises herself not to become overly homesick. However, she need not worry about that too much. Immediately upon arrival, the sights and sounds of Boston capture her senses, including the strange old man at the station watching her. This is just the first of many mysterious occurrences during her stay.

"Frazier provides [Zanna] with cleverly woven clues to form intriguing suspense and thrilling quests, all good clean fun for the younger readers."

Zanna’s grandmother is thrilled to have her visiting. But that’s not the case with her Uncle Bruce, the famous Boston detective, who is still licking his wounds after Zanna bested him at a mystery back in Canada. Uncle Bruce is too busy trying to solve the mysterious warehouse fires to bother with her. Zanna tries to get involved with the mystery, but no one is willing to share any information with her. At least not at first, and not from anyone she expected.

The unexpected source is a girl named Adele, who attends a fancy girls’ school --- the same school Zanna’s grandmother enrolls Zanna in during her stay there. Zanna is not so thrilled to be studying French, geometry, European literature, music, and other courses deemed necessary for refined young ladies. But she does get to meet Adele Horne, the daughter of the man who owns the torched warehouses. And Adele has a theory. She believes the fires are just a diversion for stealing priceless works of art. So Adele and Zanna team up to solve the mystery themselves. Armed with Zanna’s notebook, their keen intelligence, sharp observational skills, and propensity for finding trouble, the girls jump on the case…and right into danger.

For her second Zanna tale, Angie Frazier takes her gifted heroine and plops her in the middle of Boston, a far cry from the remote Canadian setting of her first adventure. But Zanna manages to blossom in the city just as well as in her country roots, despite some of the shady people she encounters. There are familiar characters carried over from the first book, and a few new ones as well, all very well-rounded and interesting. Of course, Zanna is the most compelling. She is wonderfully spirited, insightful and clever, armed with a kind heart and detective ambitions. Frazier provides her with cleverly woven clues to form intriguing suspense and thrilling quests, all good clean fun for the younger readers. She writes vivid descriptions at just the right amount --- not so much that it overtakes the story, and just enough to paint the colorful scenes.

The historical aspect adds some bygone flavor, and there are a few unexpected twists and turns for some spicy surprises. Fans will be begging for more mysterious adventures with Zanna.

Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on June 1, 2012

The Mastermind Plot
by Angie Frazier