Jake's plan for a carefree holiday at a musical performing arts camp in the Windy City hits a sour note when he stumbles upon a long-hidden message from his late mother, art historian Karen McGreevy. She had traveled to Chicago thirteen years earlier on a dream assignment, never to return home. With his violin and his mother's mysterious letter in hand, Jake, his best friend Julie, and new pals Ben and Natalie are heading west, where they will follow the clues and uncover the truth about a missing masterpiece, the meaning of friendship, and the enduring bond between a mother and her son.
When a kid grows up without a parent, it can be sort of tough. There is always an empty part of you that is filled with a million questions wandering everything about them. As with Jake McGreevy, his mother passed away when he was two years old to an accident not giving him a chance to get to know her. Before heading out on a winter break camp trip for students gifted in the arts, he found a stuffed animal with a note written by her. Not knowing what it meant, many questions about her went through his mind especially if he should tell his dad but he kept it to himself.
Coincidentally, his trip going to the same town that she died, he saw this as an opportunity to find out what happened to her. While Jake and his friends decide to play detective and follow the clues that help him unravel her mystery, they encounter obstacles that lead the reader through a great plot with a surprise ending that makes an exciting conclusion to this fun read.
If you didn't read the preceding book in this series, it’s not necessary but recommended based on the quality of this one. Ideally geared towards the preteen reader, I thought Vogel created a story easy to read, with likable characters that the reader can connect and relate to. Besides all the fun and adventure as the story unravels, it also embraces a story filled with loyalty, friendship and determination. So much a reader can appreciate, this is one that I think they will enjoy.
Reviewed by Michelle Bowles
Publisher: MB Publishing LLC
Publication date: 10/22/2013