The Final Puzzle
Ruby's parents are in France, and Ruby is back from Genius Camp and Mrs. Digby back from a convenient cruise. It's good to settle back into a routine, but Ruby is increasingly concerned that her boss, LB, was behind the murder of a young Spectrum Agent, Bradley Baker. She checks with her sidekick, Clancy, after receiving a message hidden in an apple. She also gets help from Hitch, who makes repeated attempts to set her up with a spiffy new bike. Throughout her investigation, there seem to be more mysteries uncovered than clues, and this is especially true when she travels from Twinford up to Little Mountainside to get a special mushroom for Mrs. Digby. There, she meets Mo Loveday, who has some interesting information about UFOs. As the danger to herself grows, she find a lot of intersection between a lot of shadowy characters from her past, including the Count, Marnie Novak, and an early Spectrum programming training teens that involved not only space exploration but Specific Memory Extraction. Can Ruby put all of the pieces in place before she is the next fatality?
In the last five books, we've seen Ruby use her talents and Spectrum training to good advantage, and she certainly calls on her reserves in this final volume. Whether it's getting her new bike up and running (and painted) to her satisfaction or drawing on lessons learned to survive in an avalanche, Ruby's determination to solve mysteries and bring evil doers to justice is exemplary.
I've seen reviews that refer to the Ruby Redfort books as sui generis, and it's hard to argue. She's goofier than Alex Rider as well as oddly less British (the books are set in the Pacific Northwest but still seem to be begging to have Mrs. Digby serving tea every other page!), more upbeat than The Series of Unfortunate Events and more reality based than Bridget Wilder. She and Mrs. Digby have cultivated a sort of Batman and Alfred relationship, with Clancy serving as an admirable Robin. The 1970s setting always surprises me a little bit and adds a veneer of James Bond to the series. For avid mystery readers who want a nice, long series, Ruby Redfort and her amusing pop art covers are a great way to spend a rainy afternoon, especially if doughnuts are available for snacking.