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The Red Blazer Girls: The Vanishing Violin

Review

The Red Blazer Girls: The Vanishing Violin

Twelve-year-olds Sophie, Margaret, Rebecca and Leigh Ann are the best of friends. They all attend St. Veronica’s School in Manhattan, where the required uniform includes a red blazer and plaid skirt. The girls have gained a bit of a reputation for solving mysteries, so when the principal, Sister Bernadette, needs help with a little problem, she hires the Red Blazer Girls Detective Agency. It appears someone is mysteriously breaking into the school at night, and is redecorating, cleaning and painting. While the perpetrator is doing an awesome job, Sister Bernadette needs to get to the bottom of the mystery. The Red Blazer Girls take the case and start by exploring the bowels of the school, complete with cobwebs and rats.

Someone else has learned of the girls’ talents for cleverness and has offered them a new mystery as well. A secretive benefactor mails a letter to Margaret with an amazing proposal --- solve a series of riddles and codes, and she will be rewarded with a grand prize. But even if the reward wasn’t so tempting, they can’t pass up a challenge.

And as if two mysteries to solve weren’t enough, a third one jumps in their laps. A very expensive violin is stolen from Mr. Chernofsky’s violin shop. But how? The doors were all locked and the alarms set. The police are stumped, but the Red Blazer Girls refuse to give up; they must help him recover the stolen property.

In between all of the mystery solving, the girls are very busy with the rest of their lives. Margaret joins a string quartet playing the violin, while Sophie, Rebecca and Leigh Ann decide to form a rock band. Schoolwork keeps them hopping, especially when their nemesis, Livvy, tricks them during a group project; revenge will be very sweet. And somewhere in there, Sophie finds time to spend with her boyfriend, Raf. Life is never boring for the Red Blazer Girls.

Michael D. Beil delivers another winner with his second Red Blazer Girls mystery, which bursts with fun and excitement. His main characters are strong, smart, independent preteens, making ideal role models for readers. They do get into trouble occasionally and make poor choices, but they have good hearts and sharp minds, and keep their friends and family as their top priority. The storyline moves fast with lots of action, and the pages fizzle with energy. Beil encourages his audience to try to solve the many challenging riddles and puzzles before reading how the girls solve them. He also fuses in a bit of culture with literature and music, and his wonderful sense of humor makes even these parts fun and hilarious. At one point, when Sophie is daydreaming about becoming part of a successful rock band, she states, “As C. Daddy Dickens would say, there’s nothing like having great expectations.”

The Red Blazer Girls are awesome, and fans will be begging for more.

Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on May 10, 2011

The Red Blazer Girls: The Vanishing Violin
by Michael D. Beil

  • Publication Date: May 10, 2011
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling
  • ISBN-10: 0375854541
  • ISBN-13: 9780375854545