P.C. and Mackenzie's friend, Tom the janitor, has been accused of murdering the head biologist at New York City's Museum of Natural History. But they know Tom couldn't be the real killer, so they begin investigating. Exploring the crime scene and digging deep, they uncover a strange, precious artifact and a huge arachnid at the heart of the mystery.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Paul Zindel has written spine-tingling tales for young adults such as The Doom Stone, Loch, and Rats. With a tense, suspenseful reading by narrator Jeff Woodman, Zindel's story will stick to you like glue until the final scene.
©2001 Paul Zindel; (P)2002 Recorded Books, LLC
This is where Law & Order SVU mingles with the Scooby Doo Mysteries, minus the Great Dane and Scooby Snacks.
Zindel's way with words left me chuckling at his turns of phrase. His narrator, P.C. (Peter Christopher) Hawke is son to a famous archeologist, Steven. Employed at NYC's Museum of Natural History. A lifelong NYC native, it was easy to follow Zindel's NYC layout even if a reader's never visited Gotham. Kudos.
The supporting characters--Aunt Doria, Jesus, Mrs. Riggs, Mrs. Xanthe, Spaulding Grizinski, Tom Boggs and his mom, and others--are well developed and leave a mark in the role Zindel had them cast. As a writer doing homework in how to construct my own YA mysteries, Zindel doesn't leave time, room or space in the plot to allow excess subplot flab to sidetrack or get detoured in with the readers/listeners--and it marches straight to its finish in a Flap A/Slot B conclusion.
Two big nits with this--aside from my own aversion to cockroaches and other crawlies with more legs than necessary: Zindel's virtual info dump in great detail in the story. Needed info yes, info glut, no. The editor in charge of this--and the writer, too, sorry to say--left this info in more to show off than advance a plot, IMO.
I also didn't get the sense P.C. was the teen Zindel presented him as. Sometimes authors insert their own personalities/traits/mannerisms and other speaks into their characters; this was evident in P.C.'s personality, making him not fully P.C. P.C. needs to read more lived in, good in his own skin, and show the untypical side most sleuths-in-training seldom show. SCREAM MUSEUM had more Freddy, Daphne & Velma in it than how Mac, Jesus and P.C. would ever come across. And, oh, I guessed the perps from Chapter 3.
It's a great story for kids in the 9yo-12yo bunch, but for older kids, the NYC savvy or quick solvers for logic puzzles and those familiar with every mystery sub-genre around, you may want to pass on this.
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