A Worthy Sequel That Pulls No Punches
The Sweetest Heist in History
by Octavia Spencer
Series: Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective (Book 2)
Publication Date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
A hard-to-prove art heist makes a New York City mystery for ninja detective Randi Rhodes in this second book in a series full of humor, adventure, and heart from Academy Award–winning actress Octavia Spencer.
Randi Rhodes and her fellow ninja detectives, DC and Pudge, were flying high after solving The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit. But life in sleepy Deer Creek has begun to feel…a bit boring. There are no crimes to investigate! But a trip to New York City to visit Randi’s aunt changes that! While the ninja detective trio explores Randi’s old neighborhood in Brooklyn, they uncover an art heist. Except no one will believe them. So they’ll just have to catch the criminals in the act…
In The Sweetest Heist in History, book two of Octavia Spencer’s middle-grade mystery series, Randi Rhodes and her fellow Ninja Detectives are back for another high-kicking adventure! When our story begins, we catch Randi and DC working on a case. But Randi has grown tired of her recently-adopted snoozy hometown of Deer Creek, Tennessee, and can barely wait for Thanksgiving when she and her dad are scheduled to visit with her Aunt Gigi (her late mother’s sister) in Brooklyn. When Randi’s writer father, Herb, is unexpectedly called away for a promotional book tour, Randi feels cast aside and the trip is nearly cancelled. However, circumstances combine to create a whole new holiday excursion that brings all three Ninja Detectives together in New York where their sleuthing skills are immediately put to the test.
Nestled within the larger narrative are two subplots that give Randi’s sidekicks DC and Pudge their own time in the spotlight. DC’s storyline centers around his absent father but introduces a heroic new character, Jake, who serves as a mentor and inspiration to him. Meanwhile, Pudge supplies plenty of comedic moments as he enjoys a temporary respite from the strictly enforced structure and rules of normal daily life with his colonel father. As for the main plot, the Big City doesn’t disappoint. Randi finds more action and mystery than she could have hoped for, and some pieces of the puzzle lead her to new-found knowledge of her mother.
Though Spencer’s occasional workman-like prose can slow things down, her action sequences and dialogue consistently inject enough energy and personality into the narrative to sustain the attention of even reluctant readers. Newly introduced characters Gigi and Jake enlarge an already agreeable cast. It’s worth mentioning that despite the excitement of the big city, I missed the people and places Randi left behind, like her housekeeper Mei Ling and Deer Creek’s quirky small-town charm. Still, as with book one, Spencer manages to balance action and suspense with character development and emotional impact. Thus, while she plots dynamic episodes for her characters, she is careful to leave space for them to grow. When the curtain falls on this book, Randi has come to better understand Herb and father and daughter have mended fences.
— Dawn Teresa
4 of 5 Hearts. A Worthy Sequel That Pulls No Punches.
With The Sweetest Heist in History, Octavia Spencer offers a strong follow-up to her series opener, proving that feisty Randi Rhodes and her fellow Ninja Detectives are a crime-fighting force to be reckoned with!
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Simon & Schuster and Edelweiss for providing me an electronic copy of this title. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”