Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Extinction Encounter: Kat Wolfe Takes the Case by Lauren St. John

"Why is a BBC News helicopter trying to land in your garden?" Harper Lamb asked plaintively from the sofa bed, startling Kat, who'd forgotten that she'd slept over. Kat was discovering that the previous day had left her feeling as if she had been pummeled by grizzly bears. It all came rushing back then: the collapsing cliff, the fiery light she'd seen arc across the sea, the shadow of the enormous shark.

Harper's phone made music in her rucksack. "Look at this message from Dad!" said Harper, passing over her phone.

Hey, kid. Want to be part of something historic? Get yourself to the beach PRONTO. Tell the guards that you and Kat are my assistants.

Overnight the small beach town of Bluebell Bay becomes the center of a media frenzy. The collapse of the cliff face overlooking the tiny beach has revealed an intact skeleton of a 200 million year old dracoraptor, the sunlight catching the suddenly revealed bleached bones of the dragon dinosaur.

And almost instantly the scene of the find is overwhelmed with curiosity seekers, amateur paleontologists, and more nefarious characters planning to advance their fortunes by buying or stealing any of the ancient bones they can get. A celebrity couple, the Swans, blow into town and hire Kat Wolfe to pet-sit their goofy Pomeranian Xena, and Harper Lamb's father, the area paleontologist, soon discovers that part of the jawbone of the just excavated dracoraptor has been stolen from his lab. And Harper's grandfather, the Minister of Defense, pays a suspicious quick visit to the scene.

Something more than a theft of a rare paleontological find is afoot. A centuries-old secret society called the Order of the Dragon, whose followers believe medications made from fossil bones promise eternal life, has its murderous minions on the scene. It's spring holidays, and it's the moment for detectives Wolfe and Lamb to take the case.

In her second Wolfe and Lamb Mystery, Lauren St. John's Kat Wolfe Takes the Case: A Wolfe and Lamb Mystery (Wolfe and Lamb Mysteries) (Farrar, Strous and Giroux, 2019), author St. John again has her intrepid schoolgirl super sleuths who squeeze down trapdoors hidden in he woods, decipher coded messages, sneak through secret underground tunnels, dodge murderous operatives as, with their new associate Kai Wu, uncover the malefactors and return their scenic town to it role as quiet tourist destination, protecting their endangered pets along the way, and ending with a few days still left of their school holiday. Of this entertaining and breathless mystery, School Library Journal says “St. John’s prose is splendid, and her extensive knowledge of animals great and small is evident. . .A complex mystery with well-placed red herrings, important reminders about animal care and conservation, and appealing protagonists make this a recommended purchase.”

Notable author of many mystery adventures for middle readers, Lauren St. John's first book in this series is Kat Wolfe Takes the Case (Wolfe and Lamb).

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