Sunday, January 24, 2016

Carter, Ally. All Fall Down (Embassy Row)

Carter, Ally.  All Fall Down (Embassy Row)  Scholastic Press      2015  310p  $17.99  ISBN 978-0-545-65474-6  jr/sr  Mystery/Detective  VG  

The author, best known for her Heist and Gallagher Girls series, now tackles a mystery involving the murder of Grace’s mother in New York City.  Grace, emotionally fragile yet gutsy in her actions, now lives with her U.S. Ambassador grandfather in Adria, Italy.  The story starts out swiftly, as Grace is filled in on diplomatic protocol by her grandfather’s secretary, humorously crashes into the Russian ambassador (quite literally), and on that first night is quickly whisked away by a teenage neighbor to an all-night party on the beach with other embassy-row teenagers.  The pace lags at times, as plot devices are put into place, including the underground tunnels, the vacant Iranian embassy that appears to be in exceptionally well-kept condition, and the many characters that populate Grace’s world.  When Grace sees the scarred man who she remembers being responsible for her mother’s death, she becomes obsessed with bringing him to justice.  Her teen friends (somewhat unbelievably) are able to bypass security at numerous embassies, hack into databases, and alternately believe in her quest and doubt her sanity.  This is obviously the first of a series, as the abrupt ending hints at her mother’s duplicitous life as a possible spy and/or keeper of ancient secrets.           

This book hints at being the first of a strong series (Embassy Row) about international espionage. Possibly it would have been better to release two books in the series at once, as this book leaves the reader puzzled and wanting more explanations, with nothing really solved. Recommended where Ally Carter books are popular.     

Summary: Grace goes to live at her grandfather’s house, an American embassy in an Italian town called Adria.  The death of her mother, which she witnessed, leads her to a whirlwind adventure to find the man responsible for it.  Intrigue, betrayal. Grades 8-12.     

Espionage-Fiction, Foreign Embassies-Fiction, Mystery-Fiction --Lois    McNicol

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