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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Growing in Wit and Charm
Kari Sundgren and Lucas Stickney have made friends with piano prodigy Seneca Crane, the hottest teen to sweep the classical music stage in years. So when she is kidnapped backstage at an international concert, the girls put their heads to bringing her back safe. After all, they already proved that they're great amateur detectives, and with the adults too scared to act,...
Published on August 21, 2009 by Kevin L. Nenstiel

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 out of 5 rating...Review from So Many Books, So Little Time
This was another great book in the Kari & Lucas Mystery series. Once again, I think Kari and Lucas are great and strong female young adult characters and would be good role models for tweens.

I liked this story better than the first book, The Mystery of the Third Lucretia. I liked having Seneca as a character. She felt real and is another great female...
Published on September 5, 2010 by A. Howell


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Growing in Wit and Charm, August 21, 2009
This review is from: Rescuing Seneca Crane (A Kari and Lucas Mystery) (Hardcover)
Kari Sundgren and Lucas Stickney have made friends with piano prodigy Seneca Crane, the hottest teen to sweep the classical music stage in years. So when she is kidnapped backstage at an international concert, the girls put their heads to bringing her back safe. After all, they already proved that they're great amateur detectives, and with the adults too scared to act, who else is going to save their new friend?

Susan Runholt's second Kari + Lucas mystery doesn't just rehash the successes of the first book. It's a different scope, a different angle, and the girls are a little more mature for their previous success. Runholt lets her teen detectives grow with their audience, this time taking on a mystery not just because they are good, but because it hits them right where they live.

This second book has much of the same charisma and wit that made the first such a hit with young teens and their parents. The girls may be a little older, a little more mature, and charmingly aware of boys. But they still have the headstrong determination and diligence that made them heroes in the last book.

Just as in the first book, Runholt's interest is in the characters. The mystery doesn't start until about a third of the way through the book, because Runholt would rather make new discoveries about the girls and their new friend than rush anything. Once again, teens will see plenty of themselves in these characters and situations, while parents will see plenty they hope their kids will want to aspire to themselves.

Kari, Lucas, and Runholt are all growing up a little bit alongside their audience. As the young detectives take on new and more ambitious mysteries, readers will feel like they're with old friends. Just as last time, I wish there had been books like this when I was that age. Youth and their parents will enjoy learning and growing along with Kari and Lucas, and like me, they'll wait eagerly for the third book to come along.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Girl power, the sequel!, September 16, 2009
By 
This review is from: Rescuing Seneca Crane (A Kari and Lucas Mystery) (Hardcover)
This is the sort of book that makes kids want to read. It's funny and interesting, with characters -- especially Kari and Lucas -- who are so real you want to be their friend. In her first book in the series, Runholt introduced readers to art, making museums seem cool. In this book, she talks about music -- specifically the life of a young piano prodigy. Seneca Crane is the progidy in question; she befriends Kari and Lucas when Kari's mother is writing an article on Seneca. The three girls become friends, and the mystery kicks into gear when Seneca is kidnapped just before a big performance. Who took her? And how will Kari and Lucas help to get her back? The action travels through the Scottish Highlands, with a climax late at night, in a mysterious castle, against the backdrop of a storm and raging waters. It's exciting, funny and makes me want to play the piano. What other books can you say that about?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's not to love?, September 2, 2009
By 
Otterboy (Asheville, NC) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rescuing Seneca Crane (A Kari and Lucas Mystery) (Hardcover)
Someone on a bookstore blog recently hailed Susan Runholt's Kari and Lucas mystery series as "the next Nancy Drew." This may sound heretical to devoted fans of those venerable classics, but I like them even better than Nancy Drew.

What I love about Ms. Runholt's books - and this they share in common with the Nancy Drew series - is that her protagonists (Kari and Lucas) do not depend on magic or sorcery to navigate life's challenges. They solve mysteries, and their own problems, not with wands but with what every girl (and boy) has at their disposal - bravery, imagination and their own wits. (For the record, I love the Harry Potter books, too, but the reality-based quality of this series is a sterling virtue in my mind.)

But that's not the only thing I love. Without ever sounding preachy, Ms. Runholt conveys to contemporary readers a whole set of values that I would want my daughter (or son) to embrace - a quiet but unapologetic belief in Grrrl Power, a wide-eyed appreciation for art, culture and the world's wonderful diversity, and a kind of simple, honest compassion that seems so rarely on display in our time. Throw in a crackling good international adventure, a powerful sense of place and a big dollop of age-appropriate humor, and the only thing left to do is to give this new mystery (and this series) what it deserves: five stars!!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is one of my favorite new series, August 14, 2010
Here is perhaps the finest praise I can offer a series: when the third book comes out, I'll be all over it even though I probably won't review it here. There are plenty of other books for us to chat about, Esteemed Reader, but I'll be listening to book three, The Adventure of Simba Hill, just for me. I want to know what happens to Kari and Lucas and I want to see what Runholt's going to do to top these first two wonderful books. If you haven't read Runholt's mysteries yet, get started now and we can wait for book three together.

That officially concludes the review portion of this review: buy these books. Now let's talk craft. A good series is hard to pull off, yet so many writers have ambitions for one, including the ninja. As a writer, part of the appeal to the series is a multi-book contract. But more, I suspect the joy in writing a series is the same joy the reader has in getting to spend more time with the same characters and experiencing a story larger than one book can contain. Whether that series is a Harry Potter story that is interconnected and building parts to a larger whole, telling one story over seven books. Or whether, as is the case here (so far), the books in the series are each self contained adventures like Batman stories or a television show. I like both kinds of series, but my preference is for episodic tales so that if one book sucks (not the case here) it doesn't drag down the rest:)

Regardless of the type of series, the pressure is on the writer to create fantastic characters. This is a pressure the writer always feels as we've got to create fictional people interesting and likeable enough that the reader wants to spend a whole book with them. In a series, the reader may be spending seven books or more with these characters. So take the pressure of creating one book's character and multiply it by seven, I suppose. Kari and Lucas, two 14-year old girls from Minnesota, are definitely likeable enough for the reader to want to spend four books with them. Heck, I'll spend more books with Kari and Lucas if Runholt is up to it.

More, Kari and Lucas have the sort of qualities that will make them compelling protagonists regardless of the mystery facing them. They are curious about the world and the motivations of people. This is an essential quality for any detective to have, but Runholt doesn't just tell us this (perish the thought!). She establishes the girls' curiosity in Mystery of the Third Lucretia. At an art museum in Minneapolis, the girls are treated rudely by a man copying a Rembrandt. When they see him later wearing a disguise, they decide to follow him and from this action flows the entire adventure that follows. What a masterful stroke this is! Though the girls remain very curious in Rescuing Seneca Crane as well, the subject of that book is a kidnapping of their friend, which one hardly need be curious to notice and be concerned with. But in the very first book of the series, this essential character quality of Kari and Lucas is forever established throughout the series because it is essential to the plot (and the plot comes from character, so bonus). The girls are insufferably curious, which might just get them killed were there not a third book on the way:)

In fact, most of Runholt's world building in Mystery of the Third Lucretia is clearly being built to last. Various parts of the plot, though they tie in to the first adventure, go out of their way to establish the set up for future novels. Minor spoiler... Kari's mom gets a job writing about international fashion for a magazine, which means she'll need to do a lot of traveling, dragging the girls around Europe with her. As these are international mysteries, you can bet that will come in handy. Also, we're introduced to Lucas's father, a workaholic who never makes time for her, and her mother, who would much rather be free of her child so she can spend more time shopping with friends. While this sucks for Lucas, it's great for Runholt because it means Lucas will always be free to go globetrotting with Kari and her mother.

The Kari + Lucas Mysteries are considered upper middle grade, or tween, which presents an interesting challenge to writers. On the one hand, the characters are old enough to have been exposed to many of the less savory aspects of the adult world. On the other hand, kids read up, and it's likely a given that kids as young as ten or even eight will be reading in addition to fourteen-year-olds and adult ninjas. And the covers of these books, not that a writer always has a say in that, are bright and colorful and likely to attract readers of all ages.

What then is a writer to do? How does she acknowledge the age of the protagonists, who would probably swear and talk about naughty things at fourteen (or maybe I was just warped) without risking a younger readership? One of my favorite of Runholt's inventions to get around this is her giving the girls their own way of swearing. When the girls want to swear, they insert a "meep" for the swear, as in "Oh meep," "I feel like meep," and my favorite, "Alan The Meep." It's important to remember that it is the age of the reader, not of the protagonist that determines content. After all, the protagonist in Amy Reed's Beautiful was only thirteen.

A common complaint of mine is that too often in middle grade books the horror is not really scary, the danger isn't really all that dangerous, and the mystery isn't much of a challenge. As a ninja, I keep reading, but when I was kid I put a book down as soon as I felt its writer was being condescending(i.e. trying to convince me a rabbit sucking carrot juice was scary, though I loved that book). I wouldn't have put Runholt's book down. There is a reason Kari and Lucas are fourteen instead of ten. They're dealing with some pretty serious stuff, and though Runholt keeps the story light and fun, she deals rather realistically with the world around it.

If Lucas and Kari were younger, they might be dealing with the mystery of the stolen cookie jar. But Runholt has loftier plans. In the first book, the girls are hot on the tail of an international art forgery that would be at home in a Dan Brown thriller (assuming there were a pseudo-religious twist), and in the second book, they're chasing after kidnappers that might make William Kent Krueger proud. The girls censor themselves, but the villains don't behave as though they know they're in a story written for younger readers. There are murders and discussions of rape (all tactfully handled, I promise). In one scene, the girls tour Amsterdam's Red Light district and are mistaken for, ahem, madams of the evening. Some parents may object to this, and if that's you, go ahead and object. I, for one, was thrilled to have found a mystery that was truly exciting involving dangers that were actually dangerous.

I see we are past our maximum word count and I haven't really told you the plot of either book, but that's a good thing. The less you know going in, the more pleasantly surprised you'll be. But I will say how much I appreciated the pacing at the beginning of Rescuing Seneca Crane. We know who the characters are and how it is they come to be able to travel overseas, so Runholt is able to start the adventure and keep it going to the last page.

And that wraps us up. Two big thumbs up for the Kari + Lucas mysteries!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rich as a Scottish Tartan, June 3, 2010
By 
This review is from: Rescuing Seneca Crane (A Kari and Lucas Mystery) (Hardcover)
Kari Sundgren and Lucas Stickney, 14 are on the scent or sound of a new mystery. Piano prodigy Seneca Crane, also 14 has been revered the world over for her youth and piano prowess. The two teen bloodhounds first saw Seneca perform in Minneapolis the previous summer. When Kari's mother, a reporter has a chance to go to Scotland to interview the young artist, the girls jump at the chance to go. Lucas, whose mother is a whinebag with a sense of entitlement allows her to travel as she wants Lucas and Lucas' younger brother out from underfoot so she can do her own traveling and buying expensive items. She has a hissy fit when Lucas' father changes his will so as to to put the childrens' inheritance in a trust so their greedy mother won't squander it.

The story is as rich as a Scottish tartan. Seneca is the daughter of a black father who died when she was 5 and a Caucasian mother. She has some Scottish ancestry and talks about her rich, multi-cultural background.

Once in Scotland, the girls once again see Seneca perform. They meet her mother and stepfather, a man whom Kari instantly distrusts after she witnesses him acting a fool in the hotel. The girls, Seneca included also dislike Edie, Seneca's tutor.

The girls quickly bond. Kari and Lucas hit Edinburg with Seneca, who longs to have a normal girlhood instead of touring and performing. They enjoy sight seeing and an outdoor street show involving two very clever comedians.

Shortly after their sojourn out, Seneca disappears. As it turns out, she is kidnapped. Some unlikely sources such as Parker, a 4-year-old boy who meets and befriends the older girls proves to be a helpful source. Parker's parents are musicians and have traveled with and performed with Seneca. He likes "the big girl who plays piano" and is excited to be able to "keep a secret." The question is, what secret, if any is he keeping? If there are any secrets with Parker, he does provide some clues. Another question is, how did he come across these clues and how does he, a small child interpret them? And is he correct?

The three girls and Parker all respresent Girl Power and in Parker's case, Kid Power. They are bright and appealing. The girls are singularly dogged and determined to find Seneca and unravel the cryptic clues that come their way. With Parker's help, this trio of hounds make for a very interesting detective team!

Readers will stay riveted and will eagerly await the next installment involving Kari and Lucas! (Hopefully Parker will come along for the ride as well).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Seneca Crane a snappy and arty follow-up to The Mystery of the Third Lucretia, March 30, 2010
Oh where, oh where, is the paperback version of Rescuing Seneca Crane by Susan Runholt? Yes, I have the hardback, but this book was meant to get into kids' hands and into backpacks and carted in back pockets. It's a great book to carry around and delve into when you're on the bus or sitting in the park.

Why? Because Runholt tells her mystery with clean, teen-inflected prose that just snaps. Fun stuff. You can jump in and out of the narrative and remember where you are without having to flip back several pages to reorient yourself--and where you are is in the middle of a kidnapping plot.

Teen sleuths Kari and Lucas travel to Scotland, on the coattails of the mom's business trip. They're just looking for some fun in Scotland: attending a festival, scoping cute boys (though one of them can't stop mooning over the boy back home), and meeting interesting people, like Seneca Crane, the teen piano prodigy, who disappears after her performance with the symphony orchestra.

As in the prequel to Seneca Crane, The Mystery of the Third Lucretia, Kari and Lucas are left on their own (sans adult help) to locate and rescue their new friend before something dire befalls her at the hands of her captors. Along the way, the girls encounter two Scottish lads, cute as buttons, and feel all flirty. But they keep their minds on the business at hand, and are quickly reminded that kidnappers are the kind of people you don't want to mess with.

Fortunately, our sleuths have more on the ball than adolescent hormones and snappy dialogue.

Runholt gets my thumb's-up as a writer of youth mysteries. She doesn't limit her teen sleuths'can-do because they are girls and not boys, girls and not worldly adults. Sure, they have limits, one of them that they're kids in a sometimes scary adult world, but Runholt gives them just enough smarts and moxie to rise above adversity, even when as the reader you're not quite sure they'll pull off the rescue.

As book two in the Kari and Lucus series, Seneca Crane is a good re-introduction to old friends, only now Kari and Lucus are a bit older and wiser, and somewhat more prone to the attraction of handsome Scots lads. Runholt is maturing her storytelling along with her teen protagonists.
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5.0 out of 5 stars more delightful international sleuthing!, October 25, 2009
This review is from: Rescuing Seneca Crane (A Kari and Lucas Mystery) (Hardcover)
Rescuing Seneca Crane is the second book in the Kari & Lucas mystery series. I adored The Mystery of the Third Lucretia, the first book in the series, and I devoured this one during the read-a-thon. The story picks up only a few months after the first novel ends. It's late summer, and the girls are off to Edinburgh, Scotland with Kari's mom, who is interviewing teenage piano prodigy Seneca Crane for a magazine piece. Kari and Lucas befriend Seneca, who has accomplished a lot professionally, but has had little room for a normal, teenage social life. As the title indicates (it's literal, not figurative), Seneca is soon kidnapped, and Kari and Lucas find themselves in the middle of another caper in a foreign country.

Once again, Susan Runholt does a tremendous job of describing locations. Edinburgh and the other towns of Scotland are like characters in this novel. The misunderstanding of the Scottish accent provided several laugh out loud moments for me. I loved this book as an adult reader, which is not always true of children's books. (A side note about grade level: the characters are teenagers, and teens would certainly enjoy it, but I think it's also appropriate for upper elementary readers.) Runholt also deftly educates the readers while entertaining them. I learned a lot about classical music, Scotland and history along the way, but I was mostly aware of the adventure I was on and wondering how Kari and Lucas would solve the mystery and rescue Seneca Crane.

If you haven't read The Mystery of the Third Lucretia, please read it first. This book is just as good, but you'll love it more if you already know Kari and Lucas. I personally enjoyed Lucretia a little bit more because I enjoy art more than classical music, and I've been to most of the places Kari and Lucas visited in Lucretia. I haven't been to Scotland yet, but with Runholt's descriptions I could certainly picture myself there, and I do now want to visit Scotland even more desperately.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Offering for Young Adult Readers!!!, August 20, 2009
By 
This review is from: Rescuing Seneca Crane (A Kari and Lucas Mystery) (Hardcover)
Kari Sundgren and her best girlfriend, Lucas, are off to Edinburgh, Scotland. Kari hopes that the trip will divert Lucas's attention from her boyfriend, Josh. Not only is Kari tired of her best friend's nonstop dialogue about the boy, it seems he's also a bit of a jerk.

Lucas and Kari want to meet the pianist Seneca Crane. They first saw the child prodigy perform with the Minnesota Orchestra two years ago. She's scheduled to appear in Scotland where Kari's mother will interview her for a magazine article.

But Kari and Lucas didn't expect to become friends with Seneca or that she would need to be rescued from a protective parent and a restrictive life. But a restrictive life is nothing compared to the other dangers that provide exciting and terrifying times for the three girls.

Following a concert, Seneca disappears. All Kari and Lucas know is that she was seen with some men. The girls follow the clues in the hopes that they are able to save Seneca. Who kidnapped Seneca? Is it an inside job? Will Kari and Lucas be in danger? The answers are found in Rescuing Seneca Crane. And it's a wonderful adventure.

After reading The Mystery of the Third Lucretia I said that Susan Runholt is the "Nancy Drew of the twenty-first century." Now that I've read Rescuing Seneca Crane, I realize how true that statement is. Runholt is not a "flash in the pan."

Runholt is a master at writing a good mystery that keeps the reader's attention while providing interesting information about the "arts." Her characters are real-life and three-dimensional-and her villains are deliciously evil.

I love her books! The tough thing is waiting for the next one.

In an age where much of the middle reader and young adult literature is "trashy" at best, Runholt writes a good, clean and exciting novel.

Armchair Interviews says: Runholt's 5-star books are must have for a young person's library.
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5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT BOOK, May 20, 2014
By 
Ruth M. Bayer (North Reading, Massachusetts) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
best book ever loved it read it if you like to be on the edge of your seat!!
hope she makes another one to the series
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4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read for children and young adults., July 22, 2013
Kari and Lucas are staying in Edinburgh, Scotland with Kari's mom. She writes for a magazine that wants her to do a piece on Seneca Crane. Seneca is only fifteen years old but a renowned concert pianist.

Kari and Lucas spend some time with Seneca and the three quickly become friends. They are glad that Seneca is just a normal girl like them without any celebrity airs. But when Seneca talks about her life, she says she isn't normal. She doesn't have a life; she has a schedule. With that in mind, Kari and Lucas try to do normal things they think Seneca will enjoy.

When Seneca disappears after a concert performance, Kari and Lucas are stunned. The perpetrators left a note; Seneca has been kidnapped and the ransom is high. When Kari and Lucas are babysitting a young boy that same evening, they get their first clue. Parker, the young boy, saw two men take Seneca and overhead them saying she was going to the dollhouse castle in the sky.

Lucas and Kari want to help and they know they can't call the police. The ransom note said any police interference, and Seneca would die, so they start their own investigation. With Lucas's credit card, and Kari's organized thoughts, they find themselves in danger, Scotland Mist, and a mystery about to unravel.

RESCUING SENECA CRANE is an enjoyable and entertaining read. Kari and Lucas are very mature teenagers, but yet we get a glimpse of their innocence of youth as well. The mystery surrounding Seneca is tenacious, and the pages just fly by as you take part in their adventure. A wonderful read for children and young adults.
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Rescuing Seneca Crane (A Kari and Lucas Mystery)
Rescuing Seneca Crane (A Kari and Lucas Mystery) by Susan Runholt (Hardcover - August 20, 2009)
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