Monday, October 4, 2021

The Alcatraz Escape

The Alcatraz Escape
by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
Recommended Ages: 12+

Emily, her best friend James, her older brother Matthew and several of their friends have made it into book publisher and game designer Garrison Griswold's latest contest – "Unlock the Rock," an evening of puzzles and mysteries on the historic prison island of Alcatraz – but despite their previous record of solving unbreakable puzzles and achieving challenges no one else even knew about, the group is in for an even bigger challenge this time.

A legendary, but reclusive, mystery author has come out of hiding to participate in the adventure. Another well-known writer has gotten involved for reasons of her own. A win-at-all-costs wunderkind is making things unpleasant for Emily on a personal level. Someone is leaving threatening notes for the kids, and someone is trying to sabotage the game for them, even going as far as framing Matthew for theft. And that's all before Emily becomes trapped in an off-limits area that dials the creepiness of the old penitentiary the next level.

Some of the puzzles are red herrings. Some of the clues are connected with unsolved mysteries – like, what happened to Harriet Beecher Stowe's son Frederick, last heard from in 1871? And what became of the only three prisoners ever to escape from Alcatraz without being found or captured? These old mysteries intertwine with the present-day puzzles facing the kids, and a lot hangs on the puzzles being solved fast. It's a clever story for kids who like secret codes, books, history, mystery and mildly creepy atmospherics. It also touches on themes of bullying, cheating, loyalty and the loneliness of living with a secret.

This is the third book in the "Book Scavenger" series, following Book Scavenger and The Unbreakable Code.

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