Jada Johnson, International Girl Detective sounded like a promising MG read. And it is! I’d like to thank NetGalley and the publishers for allowing me an ARC.

Jada Johnson, International Girl Detective: The Case of the Emperor’s Scepter

by Carris Kane

Jada and her family have joined her father on a business trip to Italy. When an ancient scepter is stolen from a museum right in front of her eyes, Jada becomes more than a witness. Aided by clues in verse, a puzzle, Snapchat photos and WhatsApp messages from an anonymous amica, Jada and her new friend, Carlo, search for the scepter in and around Rome. Along the way, they must fend off attacks of a Roma girl, a Bulgarian henchman and others intent on doing whatever it takes to stop them from finding it. Can Jada recover the scepter and uncover the thief before it’s time to leave Rome? Join Jada on an adventure that takes her to underground catacombs, jet skiing on the Mediterranean Sea, scuba diving in a volcanic lake and to Rome’s famous monuments as she solves a mystery and saves her father’s business deal in the process. (goodreads)

My Review

This is a really well-constructed crime story. Jada Johnson is dashing around Rome, finding clues in all the famous tourist sites. Jada is a likeable protagonist, and her brother is a typical brother. Her mild romance with the grandson of her father’s business associate (keep up there) is suitably holiday friendship for fourteen-year-olds.

It’s also modern, which is great for today’s middle grade and above readers, whilst still giving them all the historical lessons the author wants to get across.

In some ways, it disappointed me. I found the writing old-fashioned, with long sentences. It was definitely third person omniscient, which meant some of the history lessons even I glossed over. The tendency to tell the reader everything reminded me of the Hobbit. That’s another great story with an old-fashioned ‘talk to the children’ style. It would put me off continuing with the series, assuming there will be more. Despite the ‘another detective adventure’ mentioned in the text, this does appear to be a stand alone at present.

But I’m sure many middle grade American children will enjoy this ‘black kid taking on the rich and famous in Rome’ story. After all, it’s something many of us would aspire to!

Book Review | Jada Johnson, International Girl Detective
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