CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 41 . . . . June 24, 2011
Two weeks have passed since Gerald and his friends, Sam and Ruby Valentine, confronted Sir Mason Green in an ancient Roman crypt holding a casket filled with a mysterious gold rod (The Billionaire's Curse 2010). Hoping to unwind, the three accept an invitation from Mr. Gupta (owner of the Noor Jehan diamond that opened the first casket) to visit him and his daughter, Alisha, in India. The visit is anything but relaxing, however: Gerald is plagued by disturbing dreams in which Mason Green torments him; a fortuneteller accosts him in the marketplace, advising him "nothing is certain;" and Alisha is kidnapped twice by members of a local cult whose insignia is the same as Gerald's family crest. Eventually, the group navigates its way to Mamallapuram, an ancient city recently uncovered after a tsunami and the probable location of the Emerald Casket. There, they come face to face with Green, who has once again manipulated Gerald into locating the casket so that Green can pilfer its contents.
As in the first installment, Newsome is a master at dropping clues and red herrings that move the mystery along while leaving plenty of doubts about which characters are bad guys and which ones can be trusted. The action never flags, and descriptions of various Indian locales add historical and cultural interest. Humorous side plots (Gerald's butler, the up-tight Mr. Fry, becomes enamored of Alisha's stern chaperone, Miss Turner, and the hapless Constable Lethbridge makes several cameos with his pigeons) and resurrected villains (the albino man who smells of bleach, now described as a thin man in black) add to the intrigue. Gerald is part Indiana Jones (navigating ancient booby-trapped ruins) and part Alex Rider (a sure-footed rock climber, adept with a variety of tools and weapons), and sure to appeal to middle grade readers. This book stands alone, but readers will want to catch the earlier title as well. A third volume-The Mask of Destiny, set on the Normandy coast, where hopefully Green will receive his comeuppance-is promised.
Kay Weisman is a Master of Arts in Children's Literature candidate at the University of British Columbia.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.