Monday, March 9, 2015

MMGM: Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile




I discovered today’s gem when I was checking out the Edgar nominees for this year. I’m not one of those writers who shun reading other people’s books while working on her own.  So since I’m working on a mystery, I’m reading mysteries, especially puzzle mysteries, to learn from the masters.

And let me tell you, Marcia Wells, knows how to write mysteries. This is her debut and I’m already looking forward to Eddie Red’s sequel.

The synopsis (from Amazon):

Art, mystery, fun and friendship, combine in this illustrated middle grade series debut. Sixth grader Edmund Xavier Lonnrot, codename "Eddie Red," has a photographic memory and talent for drawing anything he sees. When the NYPD is stumped by a mastermind art thief, Eddie becomes their secret weapon to solve the case, drawing Eddie deeper into New York's famous Museum Mile and closer to a dangerous criminal group known as The Picasso Gang. 

With page-turning adventure and fun characters, this first installment in the Eddie Red series is a must-read for any fan of puzzles and mystery. A Spring 2014 Indies Introduce New Voices selection.


What I loved about this book:

      1.      Amazing characters: This is a book where every character jumps off the page. Eddie’s outgoing, fact-loving huge father. His model good-looking mother, who’s always scared for Eddie. His best friend, Jonah, who has OCD. Eddie himself, who has a photographic memory and ability to draw whatever he sees, but is also realistically unsure of himself at others (especially around girls).

2.   A fantastic set up: Isn’t it every kid’s dream to get hired as a real spy for the police? I loved experiencing police work through a kid’s eyes. As Eddie often points out, it’s not like the movies.

      3.  A fast-paced puzzle mystery: I’ve found that puzzle mysteries, while I enjoy them, tend to be slow-paced. What is refreshing about EDDIE RED is that it combines the fast pace of an adventure with the intellectual stimulation of  solving a puzzle.  

      4.      A “bad” character that turns out to be not all that he seems. No spoilers on this one, but I have a soft spot for stories like this. I’ve read about too many characters who you think are good, but really aren’t. A completely different type of character arc was nice for a change.

       5. The art! Since this is a book about a kid who can draw suspects, it made sense that we got to see Eddie’s drawings throughout the book.

Just for fun, I'm including a picture of the notes I took on some of the chapters. I used Cheryl Klein's technique of making a book map, listing each chapter and what happened. I highlighted them for subplot (purple), main plot (blue), and puzzle plot (green). The climax is at the bottom of the list, so you can see how most of the last scenes are the main plot. This really helped me see why this book had such a well-balanced pace. If you haven't ever analyzed books like this, I highly recommend it.


I’m not sure what titles to compare EDDIE RED to. It has the diverse cast of THE GREAT GREEN HEIST, but a less sophisticated hero, whom younger readers will relate to. It has the puzzle aspects of UNDER THE EGG, Blue Balliet’s books and Elise Broach’s mysteries, yet it is more fast-paced. I think this book would really appeal to boys, especially those who enjoy art or have an interest in the police.

What great mysteries have you read lately? Have you read any of the Edgar nominees for this year? 


If you're looking for Marvelous Middle Grade suggestions, check out Shannon Messenger's blog.



18 comments:

  1. I like mysteries and this sounds like a good one, especially with such great characters.

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    1. I think you'd really enjoy this one, Natalie!

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  2. That's cool they included some of Eddie's drawings. I'm sure it added a lot to the story.

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    1. Yes, that was one of my favorite parts. :)

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  3. I heard about this book last year but haven't found it in my library. Might have to buy a copy! You make it sound very cool. As for Edgar Nominees, I've read Greenglass House.

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    1. Ooh, I haven't read Greenglass House yet, but it's on my list. I think you'd really enjoy this one, Joanne, so I hope you can track it down. :)

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  4. Good for you to continue reading while writing. I do the same and can see its impact. This book is definitely one I will be reading. The mystery aspect along with the appealing characters have me sold. Thanks for the review.

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    1. Yes, I feel like doing MMGM has been such a good thing for me as a writer--it keeps me reading in my genre. I hope you enjoy this one!

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  5. This sounds really fun. I do like a good mystery. I loved Under the Egg. A recent one I really liked is Moonpenny Island by Tricia Springstubb, Loved it. Thanks for the review.

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    1. I've been hearing such good things about Moonpenny Island (maybe from your post?). And Under the Egg was a lot of fun, just like this one. I love anything that involves mysteries and art. :)

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  6. I loved this when I read it. I especially liked that the author used museums that are not well known outside NYC like the Jewish Museum and the Neue Galeria. It's a great introduction to the mystery novel for young readers, too.

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    1. I'm so glad you brought that up. I really enjoyed all the lesser-known museums as well. Glad you stopped by, Alex!

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  8. Hi Jenni! Thank you so much for your wonderful comments - I'm so glad you enjoyed Eddie Red! I just left a comment but it got messed up, so fingers crossed this works. Anyway, as I struggle to write Eddie 3, convinced I'm the worst mystery writer in the planet, your words have given me strength!! I have an extra ARC of Eddie 2 and would love to send to you if you'd like. Thanks again and have FUN writing!! :)

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    1. Marcia, I am honored that you stopped by! Yes, please! I'd love an ARC of Eddie 2. To contact me, use the contact form on my blog here: http://jennienzor.blogspot.com/p/contact-me_20.html or my email is jennienzor (at) gmail (dot) com.
      I'm so glad to know this encouraged you. I so enjoyed reading about Eddie and can't wait to read your sequels!

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    2. Hooray! I just sent you an email from a hotmail address...I hope it doesn't get sent to your junk mail- lol.

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  9. I LOVED mysteries when I was a kid- this sounds right up my alley!

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  10. I always like it when museums feature in a setting. This sounds like a great MG- and w/pictures, woo!

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