[Book Review] The Kidnapped King (A to Z Mysteries, #11) by Ron Roy

The king and queen of Costra have been kidnapped! For his own protection, the prince is sent to Green Lawn to hide out with Dink's family. Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose promise to help their royal friend rescue his parents from the enemies of the Crown. But then the prince is captured, too! Can the three sleuths catch the kidnappers and unravel this royal mystery?

So... I think this is the A to Z Mysteries book that makes the least sense from a "kid-appropriate mysteries" sense. I don't mean to imply that the content is by any means inappropriate for children, of course. Rather, I'm referring to the premise itself. In these "child sleuth" books, one or more elementary or middle school child/ren is/are tasked with solving a mystery, and in order for the books to have stakes that will impress the target audience, the mystery will often involve some crime that is totally inappropriate for a child to investigate. The Bald Bandit had a bank robbery. Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the Stolen Diamonds has a jewelry store robbery. Who Broke Lincoln's Thumb? (from Ron Roy's other mystery series, Capital Mysteries) involves vandalism of the Lincoln Memorial. But in terms of "things kids shouldn't be investigating under any circumstances", The Kidnapped King takes the cake: Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose investigate the kidnapping of a Crown Prince.

It genuinely makes zero sense. Not one bit of the premise does. In the story, as the summary says above, the King and Queen Consort of the fictional island nation of Costra have been kidnapped. Rather than having, say, the U.N. or the government of Costra or anyone besides these random suburbanites handle the child's care, young Prince Samir is sent to live with the Duncan family of Goddamn Damn Nowhere, Connecticut Green Lawn, Connecticut. As in, this child who is assumed to be at high risk of being kidnapped himself, given that his parents were taken hostage mere days earlier, is for some reason living with random strangers who can provide him with no protection whatsoever.

The only reason for Sammi to come to live with Dink is to give Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose a mystery to solve. The A to Z Mysteries/Calendar Mysteries/Capital Mysteries universe has now bent itself to their mystery-seeking wills. Even I have a hard time suspending my disbelief on this one, guys, and I adore this series.

Beyond that, though, it's a solid enough mystery. There's no multitude of suspects--in fact, there isn't really a single suspect, just a vague notion of "kidnappers"--but there's a false lead or two and a cleverly hinted-at culprit whose villainy should come as a shock to young readers.

While The Kidnapped King certainly isn't the best installment of the A to Z Mysteries series, I highly recommend the series to young mystery fans.

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