Picking up immediately where The Maze of Bones left off, Amy and Dan Cahill, their au pair, Nellie, and Grace’s fastidious feline, Saladan, are in pursuit of the second of the 39 clues. Having successfully and secretly swiped clue #1 from the rest of the Cahill clan, the music of Mozart has now placed them on a train to Vienna, Austria.
Within pages, the action continues in One False Note. Amy, Dan, and Nellie are accosted by the Holt family and tailed by the Kabras. They follow Jonah Wizard and get double crossed by Irina Spasky. Uncle Alistair, however, has flown under the radar and managed a slight lead. Too bad the Starling triplets couldn’t join the rest of the Cahill Clan on their European Vacation.
The hunt for the next clue leads them to Mozart’s sister, Nannerl. Amy and Dan discover that she was equally as gifted as her brother, maybe moreso, but received no recognition because she was female in a male world. Nannerl’s diary, or more accurately, the diary’s missing pages, lead them to two major clues-to-the-clues, from Grace Cahill herself: The words that cost her life, minus the music and D>HIC.
Going into book two, I was curious to see if the tone of the first book would continue through the change in authors. Rick Riordan’s characters have now been adopted by Gordon Korman, eventually to be passed on to eight additional authors in the ten book series. Mr. Korman discussed this in a Scholastic webcast, explaining how he was able to layer additional information on to already developed characters. Dan is still a stinker, always ready for an adventure – breaking into a hotel room and jumping out a window, for example – and Amy still has an aggressive, quick-thinking side hidden not-so-deeply beneath her shy, bookworm exterior. Would a simple bookworm blackmail an adversary, a room full of them, no less, by aiming a tube of liquid red paint at a priceless portrait?
At times I wondered how in the world other Cahills always beat Dan and Amy to the next location. How many clues-to-the-clues are there, anyway, and how do the others find them so quickly? And if there are so many of these clues out there, how has this secret stayed hidden for so long? Then I remind myself to stop being such a grown-up. Who cares? Irina Spasky is at the door! Do I care how she got there? NO! I just want to know if she’s going to use her poisonous finger nail needles to kill someone.
Background knowledge and more background knowledge will be needed to fully appreciate the story. How many kids will really see Vienna or Venice in their imagination? But then again, is it necessary to understand how amazing it would be to discover unknown works by Rembrandt, Picasso, Van Gogh, and Warhol to truly enjoy the story?
Probably not. Just buckle up and enjoy One False Note as it moves along like Nellie driving on the Autobahn. And get reading! Book three is due on March 3, 2009! Amy and Dan are already headed east in pursuit.