The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

March Mysteries
I have been a mystery fan for all of my life. As a young teen, I devoured Agatha Christie novels. These are all aimed more for teen audiences, and include elements that will appeal to this audience. One is historical fiction, and includes some interesting aspects of life after WWII, one has an online component to continue the mystery, and of course, who could forget vampires?
Reynie may not have what most people consider to be an ideal life. He lives in an orphanage, being an orphan, and gets picked on for being so smart. His only friend is his tutor Miss Perumal, and for that he is very grateful. One day he reads an advertisement in the paper asking for gifted youth to come and take a test. Intrigued by the prospect, Reynie goes to the task with his usual intelligence. Several strange things happen during the course of his multi-level tests, like meeting a girl with green hair who offers him the answers to the test...but he decides to take his chances.

Much to his surprise, he is one of only four children chosen to be on the team! Along with Kate, Constance, and "Sticky" the team meets Mr. Benedict. He's quite the character, suffering from narcolepsy (always falling asleep in the middle of things) especially when he laughs. He always wears green plaid suits, and his genius is responsible for giving the team the chance they now have to stop the impending disaster. Mr. Benedict tells them of the hidden messages being sent out by the aptly named Mr. Curtain. It seems Mr. Curtain has far more sinister intentions than simply running a school for the gifted. It is this school, Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, that the children must infiltrate to learn what they can about the impending nefarious plan.

The four together are very resourceful, Reynie being a thinking, Sticky is the brains, Kate is the muscle, and Constance...well, Constance is stubborn. After beginning at the new school, the kids are faced with some hard truths. For instance, Mr. Curtain seems to be Mr. Benedict's twin! Using Morse Code, they are able to communicate what they have learned back to Mr. Benedict and his team. They learn how the secret messages are being transmitted by using students, and discover his ultimate evil plan: to become M.A.S.T.E.R., "Minister and Secretary of all The Earth's Regions". It is only through quick thinking, teamwork, and a good amount of luck that the kids are able to avoid danger and detection. Will they be able to stop him in time?

Fantastically whimsical, well written, excellent illustrations by Carter Ellis, and a mystery that will draw in anyone with a quizzical mind. Highly recommended, I can't wait to read the sequels.

*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart
The Name of this Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett

Stewart, Trenton Lee. (2007). The Mysterious Benedict Society. Little, Brown and Co.: New York, NY.

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