- The Diamond
- A Test
- Daniel Gannon
- Secret Code
- WHERE HOTTY?
- The Principal’s Office
- Decoding the Secret Message
- “You’re ditching?”
- Totally Annoyed and Completely Attracted
- A Trap Door in the Library
- Secret Passageway
- Horrible Mural
- In the Black Light’s Glow
- A Clue in an Article
- 3 Palms at 10
- A Map in the Door Handle
- Secret Weapon
- A Fake, Pretend Member
- Daniel’s Challenge
- 7 x 17 x 37
- No Time to Run
- Inside Daniel Gannon’s House
- Xandra’s Diary
- Coded Clues
- The Hidden Message
- A Mysterious Key
- Clues in the Diary
- The Pier
- Seven Rocks by Seven Rocks
- The Locked Box
- A Shocking Call
- The Kiss
- Registered Letter
- A Limousine Ride to a Secret Location
- Solving the Case
- The Curse of Koma Island
7:05 a.m. Ruthcat:
Welcome back Pacific middle school Tigers!
7:06 a.m. Double D:
Tigers rule! Undefeated in hoops—Yeah Baby 😉
7:08 a.m. Madpat:
Check yourself. Did U get the diamond? Don’t be a left-out.
7:10 a.m. Trishbliss:
7:11 a.m. Anonymous:
What dinomd? Duh—THE dinomd.
7:15 a.m. Ruthcat:
TB, ignore Anonymous. Hey Dummy—we all know who can’t spell.
7:16 a.m. Double D:
7:22 a.m. Madpat:
Anonymous: Watch ur back.
7:24 a.m. Anonymous:
O now Im scraed.
7:25 a.m. Madpat:
U shd b. It’s on.
7:35 a.m. Anonymous:
Yeah, right. LOL. Bring it.
Chapter 1: Nerves
The first day of school always makes me nervous. I worry that I won’t find my classrooms on time and I’ll walk in late while everyone laughs. To make things worse, on the first day of the Spring semester of seventh grade, it was pouring. I mean really pouring. I’d looked forward to going back to school all through Christmas vacation, hoping I would have some cute boys in my classes. Specifically, the one I’d been crushing on for three years: Dustin Coles. Plus, nice teachers and as few mean girls as possible. But a horrid thought was rattling around in my brain. Would I be stuck with the bully crew in my core subjects—or worse, gym class? Seeing them online on our school’s underground website was bad enough. Sharing classrooms with those girls would be my worst nightmare. I couldn’t wait to get back to Pacific to see who I’d be spending the semester with: friends, or enemies?
Outside, the rain pounded down, bouncing up off of puddles in the yard and sheeting down our kitchen windows. While I ate a bowl of cereal, I worried about what would happen when I walked onto campus. Ever since I solved my last case, my mom, dad, students at my school—basically everybody has given me a bit of a hard time. Reporters call me everything from “the teen sleuth” to “the 13-year-old genius.” How embarrassing.
Truthfully, I think they’re all a little jealous. The adults: because I decoded a bunch of clues and dug up a hidden jewelry box that they should have been able to find, but couldn’t. Everyone else: because I got attention, was interviewed on TV, and got to keep the jewels. Not that I could sell them or anything until I turned eighteen. They were locked up in a safe, and I was still just regular Skylar Robbins, teen detective. To be honest, I wished everyone would just forget about it. Unlike some of the girls at Pacific, I didn’t enjoy all the attention. Except maybe from one particular extremely cute boy.
“Ready?” My mom trotted down the last few stairs. Her briefcase was in one hand and she smoothed down her shoulder-length, brown hair with the other. Mine was darker and much longer, and I twisted it around one hand impatiently while I waited for her. “Have everything you need, like an umbrella?” she asked me.
“Yes. Umbrella, laptop for lessons, spiral notebooks for taking notes, pens, bus money for the ride home.” My Porta-detective kit was shoved in the bottom of my backpack in case I discovered clues to a new mystery, but she didn’t need to know that.
Made of metal and covered in pink leopard spots, my Porta-detective kit contained smaller versions of my most important spy tools. Mini-mag glass, and tiny binoculars. A round mirror disguised as a compact was perfect for spying on people behind me. And my Uniprinter. This was a one-inch square stamp pad with black ink and a tiny tablet of paper attached to the back, useful for taking a single fingerprint.
I glanced at my watch. “Mom. We need to leave, like right now.”
While we headed for the garage, I thought about my detective agency. I’d always figured my first big case as a professional sleuth would be an easy one. Finding a missing pet, solving a petty theft, or spying on someone’s boyfriend to see if he were cheating. Nothing that would get me in trouble, put me in danger, or change my life forever. Well, I was wrong. Way wrong. And as soon as I’d located the hidden jewels, a much more challenging mystery fell into my hands.
Three years ago, the famous heiress who’d owned and hidden the jewelry box mysteriously disappeared. The only child of an oil tycoon, Xandra—pronounced Zandra—had inherited millions. She donated huge amounts of money to charity, and she had dated more than one celebrity bad boy. Then suddenly, she went missing. The media loved her, and they reported that she hadn’t left a single clue behind. The police reports agreed that Xandra Collins had disappeared without a trace. Her hundred-year-old mansion was abandoned. Three years later, my parents bought it.
Well, I know one thing from the detective skills my Grandfather taught me: It is almost impossible to disappear without leaving a trace. And if anyone could find a shred of evidence, it was going to be me.
I would end up risking my life trying to solve the mystery of the missing heiress. And worse than that, without meaning to, I’d put my friends in mortal danger too.
Keep on the lookout for this new Skylar Robbins mystery, coming soon in paperback on Amazon.
Please check out my latest interview from Mystery and Thriller Week to learn new Skylar Robbins fun facts!
- Character Name: Skylar Robbins
- Role in your story: protagonist
- Age: 13
- Description: Funny, quirky, vulnerable teen sleuth
- Nickname: Teen Detective Skylar
- Occupation: amateur sleuth
- Location: Santa Monica, CA
- Goal in life: to become a private detective like my grandfather and to open my own detective agency
- Motto: Never give up!
- Family: Only child of intelligent mom (teacher at UCLA) and dad (scientist/chemist)
- Best friend: BFF Alexa O’Reilly: dyslexic, intelligent assistant detective
- Current conflict: taking dangerous chances while trying to solve my next mystery
- Favorite Food: Peanut butter on Graham crackers, and sushi (not at the same time!)
- Addictions: hunting for clues
- Pet Peeve: bullies and liars
- Favorite Hobby: decoding secret messages
- What do you do for fun? Explore new neighborhoods on my bike with my BFF, Alexa.
Favorite childhood memory:
My grandfather’s face popped into my mind, and within seconds I was longing to see him again. Grandpa had taught me all sorts of important skills for finding clues, investigating mysteries, and solving cases. I remembered how he taught me to lift fingerprints like it was yesterday:
Grandpa treated me to a blue-eyed smile. Then he winked at me and held out his hand with a Kleenex covering his palm. “Let’s see that juice box.” I put the box of Juicy-Juice I’d just finished on the tissue. He moved it onto the table in front of him, careful not to touch the surfaces of the box with his fingers. “This is fingerprinting powder,” he explained, holding up what looked like a jar of dark ash. “Watch,” my grandfather said, sprinkling some of the powder onto the side of the juice box. Then he took a big soft brush and whisked most of the powder onto a napkin.
I leaned closer. A crisp, gray copy of my fingerprint stuck to the side of the waxy box like a decal on the back of my bike.
“Now we lift the print.” Grandpa removed a clear, sticky piece of tape from a roll. He pressed it down on top of my fingerprint, and then very slowly peeled the tape off of the box. “See?” he said, showing it to me. My fingerprint made a perfect picture on the clear tape. “Now let’s mount this on a Case Solution card.” He took a card off the stack he had in his detective kit, and pressed the tape down onto the card, trapping my print. I watched him fill in the case line. Since there was no case number he just wrote, SKYLAR ROBBINS’S FINGERPRINT.
Grandpa handed me the card. “It’s yours to keep. Next weekend we’ll print someone else and I’ll teach you how to compare fingerprints to see if you can find a match.”
“OK,” I said, wrapping my arms around his neck. “Let’s print Mom.”
“Let’s,” he agreed, his eyes full of fun.
- Dream job: Secret Agent
- Favorite part of your day: Getting to school before first period, hoping a cute boy will sit next to me in class.
- Pessimist, Optimist, or Realist: Optimist
- Beverage of choice: iced tea
- Most annoying person in your life: Pat Whitehead, school bully
- Taken or single? Single. Any love interests? Dustin Coles and Daniel Gannon
- Pets: none right now…
- Biggest Fear: failing to solve a mystery
- Guilty Pleasure: Telling secrets in sign language with Alexa
- Most embarrassing moment: Squirting Ketchup on my pink pants and smearing it into a big stain before going to class with Daniel.
- Greatest Strength: Using the tools in my detective kit to find clues and solve mysteries
- Greatest Weakness: I feel bad when I take dangerous chances and hide it from my parents.
- Who do you most admire? My grandfather: a retired police officer.
- Are you keeping any secrets? I take my Porta-detective kit to school in my backpack in case I need to dust for fingerprints or examine something using my Mini-Mag glass.
- Where do you see yourself in ten years? As a secret agent, traveling the world on top secret missions.
- Advice for the reader as they follow you through your journey? Learn to solve riddles and decipher clues using my detective skills. Crime scenes are three-dimensional: look for clues on the floor, all for walls, and the ceiling. Palm a compact to spy on people behind you. Learn sign language and Morse code so you can communicate without talking or when solving a mystery underwater.
4 stars out of 5
Of course, I am not part of the intended audience for this book, so my view might be a bit skewed by my age. Despite my age band, I was able to read it, and that in itself says something, considering the fact that I’m – unfortunately – a very picky reader and I get bored easily.
That being said, I definitely recommend this book to teenagers. The tone of the narrative is light enough to encourage them to continue reading and the plot is interesting enough for a twelve or thirteen-year old. It really made me remember some of the books I read when I was that age.
The protagonist is Skylar Robbins who wants nothing else in life but to be a Private Investigator like her late grandpa. The writer did a good job in presenting this young girl. It is believable and well anchored in the reality of the respective age. She has all the confidence and doubts characteristic to someone of her age and a young reader could identify themselves with her. The character is well developed and I think that the narrative in first person might have contributed seriously to that.
I always try to avoid writing a synopsis of the books I review and I will do the same here. Keeping in mind that the novel is for a young audience, I would say that the author succeeded in her task. Either she remembers how it felt and how one thought at that age or she is a good psychologist. Anyway, she did an amazing job in her incursion in the young psyche.
One thing might detract from the quality of the book (again, I repeat, I am trying to see the book through the eyes of a young reader): too detailed descriptions. I, for one, liked them, however, a young reader might not have the patience to read them.
On the whole, this is a good book for the intended audience. I would recommend it.
The Mystery of Hidden Jewels (The Skylar Robbins Mysteries) by Carrie Cross
5 stars out of 5
This novel is a real surprise. Authors evolve in time. Their writing gets better and better – if the writer is good to begin with, of course. However, it is surprising to see so much development in a second book. The fluidity of the story mesmerizes and simply catches you in: you can’t put the book down. I read it in one sitting.
The main character was developed in the first book, but here there’s much more substance. The author surprises the teenager’s evolution and if the first book Skylar was just a curious girl, tattering on the brink of evolution, now she becomes really interesting: there are some doubts but not so definite. She has the courage to stand for her convictions and thus the story becomes catchier.
I recommended the first book – mostly to children between 10 and 13. This one goes beyond that age band. If someone likes a good mystery, a fluid plot, catchy dialogue, then, they should read this book.
Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Missing Heiress is coming soon! Sign up for my newsletter to receive specific details on the release date, enter to win an autographed copy, and read the first chapter for free!
Right after 13-year-old sleuth Skylar Robbins solved The Mystery of the Hidden Jewels, a new mystery tapped her on the shoulder. Three years ago, wealthy heiress Xandra Collins disappeared without a trace, leaving her Santa Monica mansion abandoned. Three years later, Skylar’s parents bought it. Xandra had left just one mind-bending clue to her disappearance behind: a secret message written in code.
GL URMW NB WR@+B, BLF NFHG TL Y@XP GL GS% SRWW%M U&LL+
Once Skylar finally decoded that message, she was in for a world of danger. Teaming up with the smartest, cutest boy in middle school, Skylar and Daniel follow Xandra Collins’s clues, trying to determine what had become of the missing heiress. They ultimately discover a hidden box containing the key to the whole mystery.
What do you think the box contained? Post your guess using your secret code name in the comment section. If you don’t have a code name, get one here. Every entry qualifies to win a signed copy of Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Missing Heiress. Winners will be announced when the book becomes available.
Live Reading by Carrie Cross at the Waterford Public Library
It was wonderful meeting everyone at the Waterford Public Library in Waterford, Wisconsin Friday August 7th during my live reading of Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of Shadow Hills. The librarian, Tricia Cox, planned some fun crafts for the kids, including drawing with invisible ink pens, and using a fingerprinting kit with different colored ink and stamp pads.
After reading chapter one from The Mystery of Shadow Hills (Author Carrie Cross, Teen Mystery Press 2013), I signed books and took pictures with all of the Skylar Robbins fans. Then we had a drawing for prizes! Five kids won free toy binoculars to start their own detective kits, and one girl won a signed copy of The Mystery of Shadow Hills. Thanks to everyone who attended, and to Marjorie Stark Suto photography for recording the event. It was a lot of fun and I hope to come back again next year after publishing, Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Missing Heiress (Teen Mystery Press, 2016).
Win a free copy of Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of Shadow Hills! Described by reviewers as, “The New Nancy Drew,” Skylar Robbins will get your kids hooked on books. Click this link to enter. All you have to do is follow me on twitter.
Can’t wait to meet my Wisconsin fans on August 7th!
Author Visit: Carrie Cross
Waterford Public Library
Friday, Aug. 7, 10:00am
Author Carrie Cross presents: Skylar Robbins and the Mystery of Shadow Hills
Ms. Cross talks about being an author, performs a reading from her book, and explores the world of detectives with some fun crafts and activities.
My new interview just went live on Carpinello’s Writing Pages: Information about books for Children/Tweens/YA, with a little bit of writing thrown in. Explore new books. Discover new authors. Uncover pieces of an author’s life. All with a focus on getting Young Readers to read and write more.
Meet MG Mystery Writer Carrie Cross
Carrie Cross is an avid reader who fell in love with books as a little girl after reading Goodnight Moon. She wrote her first “book” at age four: Blackie the Little Black Dog and the Flying Washing Machine. Carrie discovered her love of mysteries reading Nancy Drew books and The Happy Hollisters series, and while writing Skylar Robbins mysteries, she continues to look for clues in unexpected places to this day.
Why did you choose to write books for Middle Grade?
Some of the happiest memories from my ‘tweens involve cozy nights reading in bed, especially during a rainstorm. Judy Blume is my all time favorite author. I must have read, Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret, fifty times or more. Nancy Drew and The Happy Holisters sparked my interest in mysteries. Zilpha Keatley Snyder was another favorite. How I wished I had a Velvet Room to retreat to, or a Changeling for a best friend!
My first book (never published) was written for an adult audience. While I shopped that, I started the first draft of a Skylar Robbins novel, and I was hooked instantly. I knew this was the age group I was meant to write for: the age I was when I read my favorite Judy Blume books.
What types of books do you like to read?
I still love to read MG and YA: Deb Caletti and Sarah Dessen are two favorites. I also can’t get enough of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, and Robert Crais’s Elvis Cole mysteries. I love biographies of those who lead unusual, superlative, or decadent lives, or books (fiction or non) about people who have overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
When you are not writing, what do you like to do?
Read, read, read. When I’m not writing or reading, I love to cook and go out to eat, especially for sushi, or to graze on small plates. I also own my own business distributing clothing wholesale, so I’m super busy. But if I have free time or take a vacation, you’ll find me on a boat or at a tropical beach.
Tell us about Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Hidden Jewels and how the story came to be.
Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Hidden Jewels is the second novel in the Skylar Robbins mystery series, and it just won the LASR Readers’ Choice Award for January 2015!
When I was six years old, my parents decided we needed to buy a bigger house. We looked at a creepy two-story in Santa Monica Canyon, and I played hide-and-seek with the little girl who lived there. There were closets and secret hiding places with doors that opened into other rooms. Later, I wondered, “What if there was a clue hidden in one of those closets?” And the idea for the Skylar Robbins mystery series was born, starting with The Mystery of Shadow Hills.
Here’s a peek at The Mystery of the Hidden Jewels:
After solving The Mystery of Shadow Hills, thirteen-year-old sleuth Skylar Robbins is ready for a new adventure. Sure enough, as soon as she decides to start her own detective agency a thrilling case falls right into her hands.
A deserted mansion perches on a steep hillside, overlooking a rocky canyon. Tattered curtains hang behind broken windows, and a turret stretches toward the sky. Three years ago the owner disappeared suddenly, leaving behind a house full of secrets: A mysterious note, tantalizing clues, a hidden floor, one piece of a treasure map, and a missing fortune in diamonds.
Armed with her detective kit, and with the support of her BFF Alexa and a team of secret agents, Skylar embarks on a new and dangerous mission. Can she outwit a gang of aggressive bikers and find the hidden jewels before they do? Or will the perils of middle school–like battling ruthless bully Emelyn Peters–get in her way?
Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.
Skylar’s adventures began in The Mystery of Shadow Hills. Thirteen-year-old sleuth Skylar Robbins is horrified to learn that she’ll be stuck at her bullying cousin Gwendolyn’s creepy mansion for the summer. She has no idea how much excitement and danger awaits her in Malibu’s Shadow Hills.
As soon as Skylar arrives at the estate, unexplainable events begin to happen. She discovers a hidden garden in the huge back yard, and her new friend Kat pronounces it the perfect place to perform spells. Practical Skylar is skeptical, until the magic appears to start working.
Is Kat a real middle school witch and a true friend, or is she just interested in the cute stable boy? Did she use magic to control Skylar’s body, or was it all part of a complicated hoax? Who or what is making those terrifying noises up in Shadow Hills at night?
Rumors are flying and the locals are afraid. Kat challenges Skylar to take increasingly dangerous risks while she tries to solve the mystery. Armed with her detective tools, brains, and a huge dose of courage, Skylar will face her deepest fears to find the truth.
What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?
Yes! At the end of Hidden Jewels, Skylar discovers a new and confusing clue, written in code. If she can manage to decode it, the note promises to lead her to a hidden diary containing the next clues to the whereabouts of a famous heiress who has been missing for three years. Skylar vows to crack that code and find out what happened to her. She does this in book 3: The Mystery of the Missing Heiress, which I hope to publish by the end of 2015.
What advice do you have for other authors?
This advice comes from one of my blog posts, “Carrie Cross’s Advice to Aspiring Writers #1”:
Enjoy the writing process and revise, revise, revise. Get as many people as possible to read your manuscript and give you constructive criticism. Don’t just rely on family and friends for feedback. They love you and will tell you your book is great, even if it isn’t.
Find beta readers in your target age group who you don’t know personally. For instance, I asked my account base at work if they had children who would be willing to read my book, Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of Shadow Hills, before publication, and emailed the manuscript to those kids. Their feedback was invaluable.
Finally, don’t let rejections from agents deter you from getting published. Self-publish if you don’t get a contract; you’re going to do most of your own marketing anyway. Calvin Coolidge said it best: Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent!
Anything else you want readers to know?
On my website: www.carrie-cross.com, there are free games, interactive sleuthing, and lots of other fun things going on!
Where can readers find you and your books?
Please follow me on:
ENTER here to win a personally autographed copy of Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of Shadow Hills, described by reviewers as, “The New Nancy Drew.”
Fans of Nancy Drew and Harry Potter alike will love this fast-paced blend of detective action, mystery, witchcraft, and magic. The main character is a strong, intelligent teen sleuth who has a unique, multi-cultural group of interesting classmates.Thirteen-year-old sleuth Skylar Robbins is horrified to learn that she’ll be stuck at her bullying cousin Gwendolyn’s creepy mansion for the summer. Soon after she moves in, her new friend Kat introduces her to witchcraft. Practical Skylar is skeptical, until the magic appears to start working.Is Kat a real middle school witch and a true friend, or is she just interested in the cute stable boy? Did she use magic to control Skylar’s body, or was it all part of a complicated hoax? Who or what is making those terrifying noises up in Shadow Hills at night?Armed with her detective tools and a huge dose of courage, Skylar braves her deepest and most personal fears to find the truth. The end of the book perfectly sets up the sequel; this is going to be a strong series for teens and ‘tweens.It’s time to get your kid, your Kindle, and Skylar Robbins together!By Stephen Cody
Skylar’s a great role model for girls. She’s smart, sassy, and has an unquenchable thirst to find things out. Oh, and she’s really good at solving mysteries. If you have a Kindle and a kid, get this book. Your kid is going to love making Skylar her new buddy.