by John J. Bonk
Lexi and Kevin are 12 and 10. Their mother died not too long ago, and their dad recently married Clare. Now, Dad and Clare have gone to Europe on an extended honeymoon and Lexi and Kevin have been sent to spend the summer with their Aunt Roz in New York City. They meet Kim Ling Levine, a neighbor-girl in Roz's building and instead of going to camp each day like they're supposed to, they set out to solve the mystery of missing Cleopatra jewels.
The twists and turns of the mystery along with the people the three kids meet makes it fresh and new. The writing is fine, although thoroughly peppered with cliches. Kim Ling speaks with the kind of quintessential (or stereotyped?) New York vernacular that doesn't seem quite real. She's 14, so perhaps it's buy-able, but I had a hard time with it at points. Kevin is hilarious - entering the conversation with one-liners and zingers to remind the reader that he's tagging along, but can hold his own.
Interspersed with sections focused on Lexi reminiscing about her mother and her struggles with her stepmother, the story moves along nicely as a mystery, but also a coming-to-grips tale for middle-grade readers.