Thirteen paintings, from Degas to Vermeer, have gone missing from one of the most secret of museums. Four school children who have had some experience with missing museum art are brought together by a strange woman (Mrs. Sharpe) to investigate. A series of clues are discovered by the children and it takes a lot of brain power to decipher where the clues are leading. But is Mrs. Sharpe helping them, or working some other angle?
I have reviewed a couple of other books in the past with the themes or subjects of art theft, and I think this is one of the biggest, important issues that the average person on the street is not aware of, and for this reason I am greatly appreciative that author Blue Balliet brings the issue to children in the form of mystery books.
But this book is a mess.
Starting with the characters, I had great trouble telling the children apart. Their voices are not distinct and even their behaviors are far too similar. The adults in the book are also essentially one stock character broken into a group. And of course the adults are not helpful, even though they seem to be the ones who’ve hired the children to find the art.
The clues that are provided are so obtuse I can’t imagine anyone reading along could possibly jump to the conclusions that are intrepid sleuths make!
And then there’s the repetition. I was constantly feeling “weren’t we just here? Didn’t we already make that discovery?” I think that a lot of that comes from having so many paintings that have gone missing and the clues being a bit obscure had me constantly scratching my head trying to follow the progression.
I really like the idea here, but the implementation definitely didn’t work for me.
Looking for a good book? Pieces and Players by Blue Balliet is a children’s mystery with an art theme, which definitely had me interested, but the story itself just gets bogged down and is not at all engaging.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.
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Pieces and Players
author: Blue Balliet
series: Chasing Vermeer #4
publisher: Scholastic Press
hardcover, 320 pages