The Diamond Mistake Mystery
The Diamond Mistake Mystery
[I]t is our day for reading buddies, and we end up in the kindergarten class just before recess. I try reading Dogman to Pearl again, and she listens, only we get stuck on the page that you flip back and forth in order to get the characters to move. I show her how, but she grabs the book out of my hand. "It's Flip-O-Rama," I explain as she tries. "You have to move fast." Pearl can't move the page quickly enough. Luckily, the bell rings.
Her teacher, Miss Buffet, asks us to help our buddies get their gear to go outside, so I head with Pearl to her cubby.
Renée gets her reading buddy, Aswan, dressed and out the door before we can even grab Pearl's jacket off the hook.
That's because her backpack hangs there but her jacket has disappeared. Pearl begins to cry.
"It's okay." I pat her back. "It's not even cold out, remember?" I tell her.
"But my ..." Pearl sobs her words in clumps. "Diamond ring ... is in the pocket!"
Stephen is back with all his anxieties and neuroses firmly in place, but this time he is walking not just Ping and Pong, his father's client's dogs before and after school, but he is also walking his next-door neighbour's five-year-old daughter, Pearl, to school! The number of walks is almost equal to the number of pink diamond rings that seem to be floating around this story. First, there is the one that Pearl lost, or may have lost, which may, or may not, be real (did she actually take it from her mother's jewel case for show and tell?), the many plastic rings with pink plastic rock diamonds that came in the loot bags from Aswan's birthday party, and then, the one, presumably very real, that is going to be unveiled at the Brilliant Diamond Show, which may or may not be Pearl's mother's ring. It's all very confusing and made more so by the fact that, as one of Pearl's fellow kindergartners says laconically, "Pearl lies." So Stephen and Renée really have no idea if she actually took the ring to school at all, or when. Pearl also whines, cries, pees her pants, is hard to persuade to cooperate with any plan, and seems to be the active ingredient of many of the ten or so mistakes per day that Stephen, as usual, manages to rack up.
Trying to sort through this maze of rings, and pirates (who are not all in Pearl's imagination) and people who suddenly seem to have more money than usual – such as Renée's brother Attila, who is doubly suspect because he not only is driving a more respectable car than his usual banger, but he also has a pirate's costume in his cupboard – and/or an inordinate interest in diamonds, plus the Hallowe'en party on Saturday at the library (pirate costumes galore for that!) followed by the Diamond Show across the hall is a daunting task (rather like sorting out that last sentence!).
Why is this Stephen's problem? Well, if Pearl took the ring and had it in her pocket, then it got lost from the pocket of her Wonder Woman jacket – of which there are also far too many among her classmates – while Stephen was in charge of her on the way to school, then, in a sense it his His Fault.
As usual with these mysteries, we work our way through a litany of mistakes over the course of three days, but, in the end, Stephen determines what has happened. Attila's car belongs to his grandmother for whom he is running errands, his girlfriend's earrings are fake, Pearl did lose a ring, but not while walking with Stephen and Renée, the several fakes and one real rings get sorted out, though I never did get straight just which one the dog ate. And passed. Eventually.
I do like this series! Although sometimes Stephen's focus on mistakes is a bit wearing, Renée and he are such good friends; they stick together, support each other, and their skills are remarkably complementary. Stephen is the thinker and the worrier; Renée on the other hand has remarkable skills at managing five-year-olds, and they both appreciate the other's jokes. The mystery is sufficiently mysterious to keep the reader interested and sufficiently convoluted that the solution will not possibly have been worked out by anyone other than Stephen! However, we don't care. Stephen's mother is home, though her job as a flight attendant means she won't be for long, but, in the meantime he, and we, can all relax and enjoy Pearl's father's tarte au sucre, which comes with a joke (Stephen's) about the infinite nature of pi(e). Have fun reading.
Mary Thomas lives most of the time in Winnipeg, Manitoba, works in schools when she and they are not quarantined, and has lots of time to read at the moment thanks to Covid-19.