This is the second in a series of mysteries for young readers that revolve around famous artists and their work, it’s a sequel to her Chasing Vermeer. In that book, residents of Hyde Park, Chicago and classmates Calder Pillay and Petra Andalee solve the mystery of a missing painting by Vermeer and become friends in the process.
In this book, Calder and Petra are joined by Tommy Segovia, another friend of Calder who has been away from Hyde Park for a while, and is now back. The three are told by their teacher, Mrs. Hussey about plans to demolish a famous architectural landmark in their neighborhood, the Robie House, one of designer Frank Lloyd Wright’s favorite projects, now in financial trouble. A plan has been made to divide up the house into sections and ship them to museums around the world that can exhibit them, but Mrs. Hussey, and soon her students, find this a horrible idea. The class is soon on a visit to the house, and while there, strange things began happening to the three protagonists. It almost seems as if the house itself is asking them for help.
Part of the fun of this book is the exploration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work on the house and in general, part is the strange and sometime dangerous adventures the three children have trying to save the Robie House from destruction and from art thieves, and part is the dynamics of their friendship. Tommy and Petra do not like each other, though they both like Calder, who is caught in the middle trying to please both. Each of the children has flaws, but each also has special talents and insights useful for their investigation. Mrs. Hussey plays a role, as does their elderly friend Mrs. Sharpe, their parents, and even Tommy’s pet goldfish whose bowl is used to hide an important artifact. Before the end, the children are trapped inside the Robie House with men who want to kill them, leading to a suspenseful pursuit.
Recommended. More of these to come.