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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
There is something very mysterious about the woman in black. Morgan keeps noticing her: on the plane en route to a family trip to Pittsburgh, in the hotel, in the mall, and other places as well. Each time Morgan sees this mysterious woman in black, she inches closer and learns something more about the woman’s nefarious intentions. She has a partner, Robert, and they’re planning to steal a valuable painting from one of the large galleries in Pittsburgh. The only thing is, the painting they’re planning to steal (or actually replace with a forgery) has something to do with a can. That image alone sets Morgan’s wild imagination afloat. Why would anyone paint a can? And why would it be so valuable that someone would want to forge it and steal the original?
Angela D. Moss’s young people’s novel, The Case of the Counterfeit Painting, is a modern-day Nancy Drew-type mystery. Morgan, who has just finished Grade 6 and is looking forward to starting Grade 7 in the fall, is off on a family vacation with her mom and younger brother. They explore the many galleries in Pittsburgh, learning about the city’s history and marveling at its culture. With a vivid imagination and bent on solving mysteries, it’s a small wonder that the protagonist is a young sleuth who sees a mystery in just about everything around her. The plot follows Morgan’s many encounters with this woman in black as she tries to discover the plan and the painting of a can that is the source of the planned heist. The characters are well developed and there’s lots of dialogue to help move the story along. The descriptive narrative leads the characters through multiple settings while also teaching them something about the history and culture of Pittsburgh. This is an interesting read and a real page-turner for young mystery fans.