Chasing Vermeer (英語) ペーパーバック – 2005/5
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When seemingly unrelated and strange events start to happen and a precious Vermeer painting disappears, eleven-year-olds Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay combine their talents to solve an international art scandal. Reprint.
“Suspenseful, exciting, charming, and even unexpectedly moving” –The New York Times
“Thick with devilish red herrings, this smart, playful story never stops challenging (and exhilarating) the audience.”–Publishers Weekly
“. . . the exciting, fast-paced story that’s sure to be relished by mystery-lovers.”–School Library Journal
“Art, intrigue, and plenty of twists and turns make this art mystery a great read.”
絵が盗まれるまでの序盤はかなり長く、沢山のエピソードが盛り込まれて話の方向が見えないところがありますが、事件後からはぐんぐんとストーリーに引っ張られます。実在するチャールズ・フォートの本、盗まれたこともずば抜けて多いフェルメール作品は、実際ＩＲＡの政治的要求の人質となったこともあります。そうしたリアリティーと、２人が偶発的に見える出来事の必然性とペントミノの予言を信じて事件を解明しようとするファンタジックな謎解き部分に、Series of Unfortunate Events（世にも不幸な物語）で有名になったBrett Helquistによる挿絵が相俟って、不思議な雰囲気を醸し出し、「答えられる」ことよりも「問いかける」ことの大切さ...続きを読む ›
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Plot-wise it wasn't super tight but I enjoyed the characters enough to overlook all that!
I was so excited by this book when I started reading it -- it sets up interesting characters, an exciting mystery, and a visual puzzle for the reader to solve through the illustrations in the book. I loved the initial character development of Petra and Calder, two smart young people who have very different ways of thinking. It was fun using the pentomino code to decode the letters in the book, and to try to solve the hidden puzzle in the pictures. And I loved that the mystery was based around art history. But as I read on, I became disappointed. The character development fell flat. The visual puzzle was not quite as challenging as I'd hoped (though still satisfying). And, most disappointing of all, the mystery was really not as exciting as initially promised (trying to turn the nitpicky art historical issue of painting attribution into a big international scandal just didn't work for me).
Despite these disappointments, I still believe this book has something special to offer, with its unique approach, and its two main characters who really think about the world around them, and use all their intelligence and intuition to solve the mystery.
This book frustrated me much in the same way that Harry Potter has. The author just takes too many liberties to allow the reader to feel part of the story. It feels unfair when an author gets to have a surprise hidden panel in the wall at the end of the story. I don't know if this is so much true for all genres. A mystery, however, should be tight. It needs to feel like a completed puzzle at the end - either leaving you feeling satisfied that you called it right, or amazed at how well it all came together. When it feels like a jumble that nobody could have pieced together except the author (and even appears that the author took pains to make it more complicated than necessary) it just doesn't work. In some cases of literature (and art!), when you think "I could have made that," it is a compliment on how easy the creator made it look. In the case of Chasing Vermeer, and knowing full well my limitations as a writer, thinking "I could have written that" is not a good thing.
For a book club book, I think this will still be a delight to young readers. If the club is given all the extra ingredients to completely lose themselves in a world of mathematical and artistic mystery, fall in love with Chasing Vermeer. I have only read this book aloud with students. To independently read it as a book club, students would probably need to be older and have strategies for figuring out the references the book makes.