I totally judged this book by its cover. It features three kids in a foreign city in all-action poses. They seem to be on the trail of some bad guy and they look determined to get him. I thought to myself that it was worth a try.
The three main protagonists Henry, Anna and Jose all know each other from other and are junior members of the Silver Jaguar society, an awarded bestowed on them due to a case they solved together involving a stolen Star-Spangled Banner. They are all related in some way to full-fledged members of the society as well. As one would expect from some tweens their involvement with the dangerous criminals is minimal. Truth be told most of their involvement with the bad guys involves running from some goons.
The book started off really well with a spate of art thefts across the globe triggering panic in the art world. This causes an emergency meeting of the society in its Boston headquarters. Henry, Most of the action occurs in the city of lights, Paris. Although how they get there does seem a bit far fetched. There is another member that they meet but he seems to know too much for a kid. I found this character a bit snooty. As you would expect there are some twists along the way but there is a happy ending to the story.
I have a few gripes about this book. First, the kids are not actually on a manhunt. They are looking for stolen loot and following some cryptic clues along the way. They have an unbelievable encounter with a relative of the main antagonist of the story that left me shaking my head. Another gripe I have is that there are too many threads that are not explored. Messner mentions something that piques reader interest and then whizzes on to a next detail leaving the reader hanging. I suspect though that we may learn more about Henry's background in further editions.
To its credit the book features excellent descriptions of Paris (food, places, small cultural tidbits) as well as many literary references (one of the characters is a bookworm). The language is accessible and the description of the gamut of emotions Henry experiences is well done also. Overall this is an ok read for a nine to twelve year old.
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