Charlie is a twelve year old intellectual prodigy who has uncaring, manipulative parents whom she has escaped by enrolling in college in Denver. Of course, she would rather be dangerously snowboarding with sorority girls than attending classes where she knows more than the professor, so it's easy for the CIA to bring her in for a mission. Well, not really easy, because she also has a finely tuned sense of her surroundings and the ability to steal and drive vehicles. Once Dante and Milana finally get Charlie on a private jet, they explain to her why they have captured her. Albert Einstein had been working on a formula for a source of energy, called Pandora's Box, years before his death. It was never reported that he found it, but new information indicated that he did, and that an evil Neo Nazi group called the Furies knows of its whereabouts. There were some clues, left by Einstein as he was dying, but no one in the CIA can figure them out. Dante is Charlie's half brother, and he knows of her skills as well as her fleecing of a corporation that stole her idea, so uses this to blackmail her into helping. She is a big help, not only with her mental abilities, but with her surprising knowledge of how to knock bad guys unconscious. The quest for the formula takes them from Israel to the Hubble lab in California, following clues that look like formulas. There are several nefarious groups racing to get the formula, and a lot of double crossing. In the end, it looks like Charlie has been killed, but anyone who has ever read Horowitz's Alex Rider books knows that tween spies are notoriously hard to kill.
This was one tumultuous ride! I loved the beginning, with Albert Einstein's death and the immediate descent of agents on his house, and the clues from books he owned. Including famous historical figures into more modern stories is a great way to get children interested in biographies, and Einstein was a great choice. The fact that Charlie doesn't have to worry about parents or money will appeal to young readers, and the travel to different places appealed to me! This really doesn't slow down for a minute, in the best possible way.
Gibbs is hugely popular with my students, who love his Funjungle, Spy School and Space Base Alpha mysteries. There were practically fist fights over my one copy of this book!