- The Secret of the Skeleton
This clever novel introduces the members of the Code Busters Club—Cody, Quinn, Luke, and M.E.—as they take on the task of solving a mystery surrounding the reclusive Mr. Skelton, whose house catches on fire the night after Cody and Quinn spot him in an upstairs window signaling for help. The foursome begins a seemingly hopeless search for information and end up uncovering a clue hidden behind a framed certificate, which leads them to another, and to another, until finally they piece it all together. Add in a couple of shady distant cousins who keep showing up wherever the club members are, rumors of large amounts of money hidden in the house, and the tremendous likability of kids gifted with decoding and detection skills and you’ve got a great story and a solid setup for a series. Throughout the [End Page 116] narrative, clues and information are presented in code and cipher—Morse code, American Sign Language fingerspelling, semaphores, Braille, Caesar’s cipher—and readers are invited to decode the statements and check the back of the book for the answer. This serves to add interest for a whole new crowd of readers who will find the interactive element very appealing. The villains are deeply villainous, the heroes remarkably heroic, and the plot, while a bit of a stretch, is a whole lot of fun. The final pages point to a second installment set on Alcatraz Island; expect requests upon return of this volume.