"Something sneaky is going on at Highcrest Academy, and I'm going to get to the bottom of it." (p. 236). While this statement sounds like something Nancy Drew might say when getting ready to get to the bottom of a mystery, it's actually the declaration made by twelve year old Friday Barnes in her latest mystery, Big Trouble.
Author R.A. Spratt takes readers on another fun-filled, sarcastic-spouting, mystery with her child genius, Friday Barnes. Picking up immediately after the ending of the last book, Friday finds herself face-to-face with her father, Dr. Rupert Barnes has come to Highcrest Academy in search of his daughter's help - his wife, Friday's mother - the "other" Dr. Barnes - has disappeared! Of course, in typical Barnes fashion, nothing is quite what it seems, and soon enough, Friday uncovers the truth behind her mother's disappearance (much to the chagrin of the local police department) and must return to school, with her father in tow.
Spratt is a master of spinning an over-arching story that has numerous sub-plots, yet all without confusion, but with plenty of character development and Friday's blunt, no-holds-barred attitude. The main mystery involves the continuing thefts throughout the school campus - first, it's the headmaster's watch; then, a valuable letter written by Marie Curie; and the thefts continue, with laptops, jewelry, bond certificates, and even golf clubs going missing. Friday is on the case, but she finds herself constantly being pulled into other situations - such as helping her archnemesis (a/k/a her boyfriend?) Ian Wainwright's mother locate the jewely her prison-bound husband his before he was arrested, as well as helping two other students discover the source of the mysterious cries for help that they hear every night coming from the attic.
And, lest we forget, the school has welcomed two new students into its doors - the beautiful Norwegian princess, Ingrid, and the short, dowdy brown-haired girl who shares her dorm room, Debbie. These two girls play an important part of the overall story, particularly when the Binky, the brother of Friday's best friend, Melanie Pelly, falls head over heels for Debbie (yes, that's right - he's not interested in the beautiful princess - he's much rather have the frumpy one). Can Friday and Melanie help him talk to her? And can they help the princess protect the invaluable Haakon Stone?
It's a roller coaster ride of mystery, wise-cracking, and fun that just about anyone will enjoy. Each book gets better than the last, and I'm looking forward to the next book, Friday Barnes: No Rules!
RATING: 10 rhinestone-studded dog collars out of 10 for giving us big trouble, but an even bigger and better read!