Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Steel Trap: The Challenge, by Ridley Pearson

Pearson has been producing children's and young adult books fo a number of years now. His first were the Peter Pan series coauthored with Dave Barry. I've been a fan of his adult detective fiction particularly those with Lou Boldt/Daphne Matthews for years. Steel Trapp has several characters from his adult novel Cut and Run. It was a little confusing to me because the characters seem to have some parallel and crossed connections. For example, without explanation, Steel has possession of the dog, Cairo, that was delivered to the main characters as a new pet at the end of Cut and Run. (He is not one of them.)

Even with these minor confusions, the plot is strong and characters are interesting, if not totally believable. I am going to give the book to a colleague whose son's robotics team is competing in the national level of science teams. Not all characters are developed fully and I had some questions about motivations. A minor character, the woman who serves as a "mule" delivering a brief case with materials proving that the bad guys have a hostage, appears several times in the book. At this point I'm not certain if she is going to become a character in later books, or is one that just floats on the edges of this book.

Steel Trapp: The Challenge includes science fair competitions, a trip to Washington D.C., the FBI, witness protection marshals, and terrorists. However, we are never focused on a specific act of terrorism, just fund raising to support it. That is a relief and very appropriate for a young adult book. I'll be eager to hear of the response of young readers to the plot and characters. There seems to be enough to keep a reader engaged. My previous reading of Cut and Run may be the source of any confusions I might be experiencing. He does have a new title in this series out, Steel Trapp: The Academy. It will probably appear on my "to read" shelf immediately.

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