When 12-year-old Hazel Frump has another spine-tingling dream in which she suddenly finds herself in an old tower, her nine-year-old brother, Ned, is sure something bad is afoot in Jennifer Lanthier's The Mystery of the Martello Tower. While Ned is a precocious chemist, always trying to concoct the perfect stink bomb, Hazel is an inquisitive girl. Their mother passed away years ago, and Colin, their gallery owner father, claims that he has no other family. But when Colin leaves unexpectedly for a business trip to Turkey, the girl's curiosity compels her to search her father's office, where she discovers one email from Interpol about an artist's websites and another from a relative in Canada. And when the Frumps' apartment is burgled and the siblings learn that their father has been imprisoned for art fraud, they flee to their long-lost family's castle estate. As their Frump cousins reveal underground secret passages, as well as family secrets, Hazel and Ned use their wits and a few tricks to uncover a ring of art fraud thieves, free their father from jail, and finally learn the truth about their mother's death and Hazel's connection to the castle's lone tower. Copyright 2008 BookPage Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2008 May #1
While Hazel Frump is almost 12 and her brother Ned is only nine-and-a-half, they're closer than most siblings. Their eccentric, wealthy father has vanished, leaving them with their artist neighbor Frankie, who helps run the family art gallery. After Hazel finds some mysterious e-mail messages while snooping in her dad's office, soon both kids are off to Canada to discover relatives and a family estate they never knew existed. Hazel's a whiz at basketball and Ned's specialty is chemistry; both skills come in handy as a major art fraud is uncovered, and worry over their father sends Frankie to Turkey to get him released from prison. Family secrets, underground passages, annoying bullies, hidden staircases, wild hailstorms and dastardly criminals pepper the plot, often distracting readers from solutions that are not, in the end, terribly obscure. Despite this flaw, the large cast of characters and the multiple puzzles combine to form a traditional mystery that is satisfyingly resolved. The somewhat drawn-out ending may indicate future adventures for the Frumps. (Fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Reviews 2008 July
Gr 4-8-- Hazel Frump spends the week before her 12th birthday tackling two mysteries. She yearns to know more about her mother, who died long ago, and she faces the unexplained disappearance of her father, a Toronto art dealer. Hazel and her younger brother follow their father's paper trail, encountering shady art dealers and a long-lost branch of their family tree. The siblings join their newfound cousins on Ile du Loup in the St. Lawrence River, and together they piece together the hidden truths behind both of Hazel's mysteries. The Martello tower is a structure designed to guard a port or town, and it, too, plays a role in Hazel's discoveries. The novel contains enough red herrings and dead ends to build suspense and draw readers to its lively denouement. The ways in which family and art mix together emotionally ground the story and balance out occasional stilted writing and abrupt transitions. Lanthier has packed the story with a dizzying number of details, and the fact that the children end up without any adult presence seems contrived. That said, the mystery is tightly plotted, the setting emerges distinctly, and the art angle will please fans of Blue Balliett's Chasing Vermeer (Scholastic, 2004).--Caitlin Augusta, The Darien Library, CT[Page 103]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.