Reviews for Mystery of the Third Lucretia

Booklist Reviews 2008 May #1
*Starred Review* While visiting a Minneapolis art museum, 14-year-old best friends Kari and Lucas (both girls) are reprimanded by an artist copying a Rembrandt painting. Then, while visiting London with Kari's journalist mother, the kids see the same man, recognizable despite a disguise, copying another Rembrandt. When international reports herald the discovery of a previously unknown Rembrandt painting, Kari and Lucas, both talented artists themselves, recognize the work of the "Gallery Guy." Their suspicions lead them to Amsterdam, where, along with Kari's mother, they uncover an international forgery scam that implicates a top Dutch curator. Like Blue Balliett's Chasing Vermeer (2004), Runholt's debut is a clever, well-structured mystery that seamlessly folds art history into its exciting premise. The forged painting tells the ancient Roman story of Lucretia, signaling a theme of women's rights that Runholt carries throughout the book, from the girl's innocent questions about Amsterdam's red-light district to the strong female characters who drive the story. The pacing occasionally lags, but by the story's end, Runholt skillfully pulls in what could have become peripheral narrative tangents. Kari's authentic narration, her strong realistic friendship with Lucas, the cosmopolitan settings, and the carefully plotted mystery combine in a winning read that ends with the suggestion of continued adventures. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2008 April #1
Mystery fans will enjoy this clever, engaging story of two girlfriends drawn into a dangerous puzzle involving international art fraud and murder. The adventure begins when ninth-graders Kari and Lucas visit the Minneapolis Art Institute to see an exhibit of Rembrandt's Lucretia paintings and notice a creepy man they christen "Gallery Guy" copying the paintings. The plot thickens when Kari and Lucas accompany Lucas's mom to London, where they spot the same man copying another Rembrandt Lucretia in the National Gallery. Kari convinces the skeptical Lucas that it's more than coincidence and they start to investigate, realizing his scheme when they read news of the discovery in Amsterdam of a "lost" Rembrandt painting--a third Lucretia. Runholt subtly interjects fascinating art-history facts throughout the story without sacrificing suspense. Kari and Lucas are appealing young sleuths; Kari's intuitive approach is a good complement to Lucas's photographic memory and analytical mind. Readers will no doubt look forward to reading more adventures of these teen detectives. (Fiction. 11-15) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2008 March

Gr 4-7-- At the opening of this art mystery reminiscent of Blue Balliett's Chasing Vermeer (Scholastic, 2004), teen art enthusiasts Kari and Lucas encounter a foul-tempered man painting secretively at an exhibit of Rembrandt's famous Lucretia at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The strange episode proves significant when the best friends embark on a trip to London with Kari's mother and bump into the same unsociable painter in the Rembrandt room of the National Gallery. They realize the man is more than what he seems and make it their mission to discover what he is painting with such intense secrecy. Disguise and hilarity ensue, but before they know it, Kari and Lucas find themselves in real danger. The situation spirals when a new Lucretia painting surfaces unexpectedly, and the two sleuths must piece together the clues before the painter catches up with them--or before Kari's mom discovers that they have been spending their sightseeing time spying on a criminal. Kari narrates in a believable, contemporary voice, straightforward and humorous, reflecting the foibles and fears of an average 14-year-old. The story is carried by its continuous action and likable characters, not by the mystery, which remains a bit flat, without many twists. Nevertheless, the clarity of the plot, as well as the relative lack of violence, makes this a worthwhile choice for readers newly acquiring a taste for the mystery genre.--Emma Runyan, The Winsor School, Boston, MA

[Page 209]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

VOYA Reviews 2008 April
Lucas Stickney and Kari Sundgren, typical fourteen-year-old girls, land in the middle of an art mystery. The plot centers on a dark stranger whom they observe painting a study of a Rembrandt painting at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Later on a trip to London with Kari's mother, the young women see the same man copying another Rembrandt painting at the National Gallery. Both times, he appears cold and threatening. They also discover that two museum guards who may have seen his work have died in separate accidents. Lucas herself becomes a target when she is nearly the victim of a hit-and-run after confronting the stranger in the museum. Who is this angry man and why is he trying to harm those who see his work? This teen-friendly story manages to render a believable tale out of a deeply improbable scenario. The uncomplicated writing will appeal to both reluctant and seasoned readers. Art lovers and armchair travelers will enjoy the accurate descriptions of museums, Rembrandt, and life in London, Paris, and Amsterdam. Educators might even consider this book as an accompaniment to visual art programs; a great deal of valuable artistic and historical information lies within its chatty, teen-centered dialogue. Its main drawback is a somewhat predictable conclusion. Imaginative readers might miss having a final twist to tickle their brains. This minor point, however, may likely be addressed in a sequel that is implied on the final page.-Christina Fairman 4Q 4P M J Copyright 2008 Voya Reviews.

VOYA Reviews 2008 October
Kari Sundgren, ninth grade student and budding artist, lives happily with her involved and loving mother in a St. Paul, Minnesota, apartment above her Uncle Geoff's rooms, whereas her best friend, Lucas Stickney, resides in an expensive world of uninvolved parents. The friends lead uneventful lives, attending school and visiting the Minneapolis Institute of Art until Kari's mom, Gillian, takes a writing job with The Scene, a teen magazine that "covers European fashion trends" and requires international travel. When she allows the two to accompany her on some extended trips, Gillian provides background cultural and geographical information before the girls may explore alone. Kari and Lucas frequent art museums, enabling them to unwittingly stumble upon an art crime involving Rembrandt's work in progress. Kari's voice lends the authenticity of a young and inexperienced teen narrator to this first-person adventure wherein each piece fits seamlessly into the mystery's puzzle. Lucas's photographic memory serves the girls well as they track clues, and Kari's artistic ability allows them to produce evidence of their observations later in the story. Meticulously researched and wholly plot-driven, the book will engage history and travel buffs, art afficionados, and mystery lovers alike. Strong settings invite readers to visit neighborhoods and art museums in Minneapolis/St. Paul, London, Paris, and Amsterdam. Kari's genuine teen voice will engage reluctant readers and budding writers, but this adult reader found it irritating and somewhat obnoxious.-Cynthia L. Winfield 3Q 4P M J S Copyright 2008 Voya Reviews.