BOOKS: Mystery series combines history, math and emotion to satisfy readers
Eleven-year-old Ada thinks about force and acceleration and sock-blasting cannons. Fourteen-year-old Mary is a bit romantic and highly intelligent, especially when it comes to words and people.
The two girls meet in "The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency: The Case of the Missing Moonstone," by Jordan Stratford.
Together they form a "clandestine" detective agency to solve the crimes of London. As girls in 1826, they must keep their identities secret.
Their first case involves Miss Rebecca Verdigris. Her valuable necklace has been stolen and her maid has confessed to the crime. But Ada and Mary know that the maid is lying.
The story continues with fast-paced plot as they uncover clues, visit disgusting prisons, search obituaries and create mathematical formulas.
"The Case of the Missing Moonstone" is an amazing book. Although the action of theft is a bit far-fetched, the pursuit of the criminal is fast-paced, risky and fun.
The writing is outstanding.
When author Jordan Stratford describes Ada's anger at a critical part of the mystery, he writes: "Ada felt as though her entire body had been scooped out and filled with tigers, pacing in cages made of her hands and rids and head."
These emotions (which nearly destroy her) end up providing the passion to solve the mystery.
The true stories of these characters are just as fascinating.
Ada (Augusta Ada Byron Lovelace) was the daughter of poet Lord Byron and later became known as the first computer programmer. Mary (Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin) was the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft and later came up with the idea for the novel "Frankenstein."
As Stratford explains in his endnote, Mary was 18 years older than Ada in real life, but he tweaked their ages so that he could cast them as friends.
Meanwhile the pages are splashed with the illustrations of Kelly Murphy, who captures the energy of these clever and resourceful girls.
If you're looking for a book series that combines mystery, history, math and emotion, the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency is one of the best that I have seen.
"The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency: The Mystery of the Missing Moonstone." By Jordan Stratford. Illustrated by Kelly Murphy. Knopf, 2015. 240 pp.