Author: Blue Balliett
F/P Level: S
AR Level: 5.4
Length: 254 pages
I discovered this book when searching for a good mystery to read aloud to my class. The book is about a pair of sixth grade students who investigate the theft of a priceless painting. I was intrigued by the novel's claim that "seemingly unrelated events connect" to create a truly suspenseful mystery. Sadly, the only connection between the unrelated events in this novel is in the Perry Mason-style ending, which abruptly explains events and seemingly psychic connections that the reader could not possibly have known. Nearly all the "clues" are simply intuition, random utterances that for some reason are significant to the main characters, or number "patterns" based on nothing more than chance. I kept hoping that these random events would fall into place as the novel progressed. They never did.
For me, a good mystery offers subtle hints to the discerning reader, and characters that rely on observation and deduction to arrive at a conclusion. The premise of Chasing Vermeer is that careful attention to coincidences can lead to discovery. This idea, while promising, was poorly executed. As a result, the novel is merely a collection of unbelievable coincidences that loosely connect through direct explanation.
Suggested Alternatives: The Westing Game, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler