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Steel Trapp: The Challengeby Ridley Pearson
Synopses & Reviews
In this riveting thriller, 14-year-old Steven Steel Trapp sets off with his mom and their dog, Cairo, on a 2-day Amtrak journey to compete in the National Science Competition in Washington, D.C. Steel is both blessed and cursed with a remarkable photographic memory — just one look and whatever he sees is imprinted for keeps. Trying to be a good Samaritan on the train, he instead becomes embroiled in an ingenious, international plot of kidnapping and bribery that may have links to terrorists. Federal agents (first seen in Pearson's adult thriller, Cut and Run) track Steel and his new-found science geek accomplice, Kaileigh Augustine, as they attempt to put together the pieces of a complex puzzle. Using Steel's science contest invention — and with the help of Cairo Steel and Kaileigh lead readers on an action-packed chase adventure as they attempt to prevent the unimaginable, before it's too late.
"Steve Trapp, nicknamed 'Steel' for his photographic memory, is leaving Chicago for a science competition in Washington, D.C., when he sees a passenger detrain without her briefcase. The attempt to return it ensnares Steel in a scheme to rig the lottery on behalf of a terrorist group, and gets him tailed by Roland Larson, the U.S. marshal from Pearson's adult novel Cut and Run. Pearson's smooth writing isn't enough to paper over the many illogical elements in his plot. Why do the Trapps take their large dog on a two-day train trip for a three-day weekend? Why has the boy genius, Steel, not figured out by age 14 that his father isn't a salesman? Moreover, the event that triggers Steel's involvement just isn't convincing: by looking through a tiny hole in the bottom of the briefcase, he spies a Polaroid of a woman gagged and tied to a chair; later, he is able to find the building where she's being held by matching its windows to the background in the photo. Pearson mentions some intriguing science (for example, the use of cell phones and microchip technology to make balloons fly) and the adventure has its moments, but his mystery gets derailed by a plague of MacGuffins. Ages 10-up." Publishers Weekly
"The pages turn with fast-paced action, revealing the interlocking mysteries piece by piece." Chris Shanley-Dillman, author of Finding My Light and The Black Pond
"The author's fondness for cliches...and his habit of repeating information already given, keep this out of the top drawer, but it's a brisk scramble nonetheless...." Kirkus Reviews
"[Steel Trapp is] a solid entry in the kid spy genre, and those who are looking for adventure will be satisfied with the quick plotting, suspense, and eventual fight scene." Voice of Youth Advocates
About the Author
Ridley Pearson is the bestselling author of 14 novels, including The Middle of Nowhere, The Pied Piper, and Beyond Recognition. He was the first American to be awarded the Raymond Chandler/Fulbright Fellowship in Detective Fiction at Oxford University. In addition, he secretly wrote The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer, which was a companion book to the ABC-TV production of Stephen King's Rose Red.
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