"A rollicking, fun mystery with a young, charismatic hero."
"Art, mystery, music, humor and adventure — Chicago Bound has it all. . . . This is a grand read . . ."
—Jack Magnus, Readers' Favorite
"Chicago Bound is loving and eventful, and most of all a great read."
—Sally Webster, author of Eve’s Daughter: Modern Woman, a Mural by Mary Cassatt
From Kirkus Reviews:
Fifteen-year-old Jake McGreevy stumbles into an art-world mystery in Vogel’s (Celtic Run, 2012) middle-grade novel, the second featuring teen gadget buff Jake McGreevy.
Jake and his two best friends, Julie and Ben, take a holiday trip to a performing arts camp in Chicago. Because his art historian mother died 13 years earlier in Chicago, Jake also plans to use the trip as an opportunity to learn more about her. As he wistfully reads through his mother’s old notebook, Jake uncovers clues as to what really happened to her. She was inspecting a recently discovered mural—believed to have been painted by Mary Cassatt—and shortly after she began expressing doubts about the work, she was hit by a drunken driver. Her notes, however, indicate that there may have been something more sinister at work in her death. Jake, Julie, Ben and their new friend, Natalie, set out to learn the truth about Jake’s mother and about the Cassatt mural. During their search, tidbits about the 1893 World’s Fair, Chicago’s architecture and the science behind Jake’s gadgets are woven smoothly into the story. Meanwhile, the kids explore the historic city, get to know residents of a local retirement home, hoodwink the strict dean of their camp, and navigate the ups and downs of teenage life. Jake is a likable and sympathetic hero—intelligent but impulsive, easygoing and funny with his pals but a little nervous with girls. His friends are well-developed, creating a fun cast of secondary characters as well as a strong support system for Jake. Many scenes are set in famous Chicago landmarks, including a thrilling chase sequence in the Museum of Science and Industry and a suspenseful moment in Macy’s Walnut Room that kicks off the story’s action-packed climax. It’s not necessary to read the first Jake McGreevy book in order to follow this one, but readers who enjoy Jake’s Chicago adventures will likely want to pick up the earlier novel as well.
A rollicking, fun mystery with a young, charismatic hero.
From Readers’ Favorite
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ stars
Reviewed by Jack Magnus
Chicago Bound is a Jake McGreevy Novel by Sean Vogel. Jake and his best friend and rock-climbing companion, Ben, are on their way to Chicago to attend a performing arts camp during Christmas vacation. Going to Chicago brings some sadness and nostalgia for Jake, as his mother died there in a car accident many years before, when Jake was only two years old. While he’s unpacking a moving box before he leaves for the bus trip, he comes across a Teddy Bear bought for him by his mother. It has an Art Institute of Chicago tag on it. It also has a bit of discolored thread along a seam which, when pulled, reveals a crumpled note with some cryptic instructions from his mother. The note reveals the existence of a journal which Jake determines to find once he’s in Chicago.
Sean Vogel’s preteen adventure mystery, Chicago Bound, is action-packed and highly entertaining. Jake and his pal, Ben, are high-tech versions of the TV hero, MacGyver, and it’s a lot of fun to watch how they rig up a tracker to let them know when the camp’s very strict Dean is approaching. I also loved the historical information that is part of the underlying mystery concerning the lost World’s Fair mural of Mary Cassatt, a mural that is still missing outside the pages of Chicago Bound. This book also gives you a good idea into what a performing arts camp would be like, especially when the conductor happens to be world-famous and not a little bit intimidating. Art, mystery, music, humor and adventure — Chicago Bound has it all, and Jake, Ben, Natalie, Julie, even the stern Dean make it come alive. This is a grand read and recommended for anyone who’s still young-at-heart enough to enjoy a bit of action and adventure.
From Dianne Bylo (tometenderblogspot):
Fifteen-year-old Jake and his two friends, Ben and Julie are off to a special “camp” for gifted and talented kids. While a trip to Chicago during the holiday season is exciting in itself, for Jake, it is a reminder that his mother was killed there while pursuing her passion, verifying old art when he was just a toddler. Was her death an accident? Did she leave clues in an old journal that Jake treasures? Do NOT think this is a sad or downbeat tale! Chicago Bound by Sean Vogel is a wonderfully ingenious and fun adventure tale for young readers whose minds know no limits!
Sean Vogel has given his characters life with his brilliant sense for how four smart, clever and daring young teens could act if cut loose alone, in a large city, determined to solve both the mystery surrounding Jake’s mother’s death and the mystery of where the REAL painting is hidden. Perhaps this is how MacGiver was as a child?
The plot is clever, the execution is brilliant, over-the-top, fast-paced and completely captivating as I was taken from the academy where the children consistently out-witted the staff to a nursing home where the residents rise to Jake’s assistance with a sense of purpose! I admit, as the action revved up, I was there, my adrenaline was pumping and I could feel the excitement of the moment coming through each word written by the author who gives us a story to remember and heroes to love! Never doubt the power of youth, friendship or loyalty! You might want to watch out for those “seniors,” too!
An ARC edition was provided by MB Publishing, LLC in exchange for my honest review! Please note: this is part of a series, but lost nothing as a stand alone!
From Sally Webster, author of Eve’s Daughter: Modern Woman, a Mural by Mary Cassatt:
Having spent many years searching for Mary Cassatt’s 1893 mural done for Chicago’s World’s Fair, I was delighted to encounter Sean Vogel’s Chicago Bound in which the young Jake and his pals visit the city and discover that Jake’s mother was murdered in her own hunt for the mural. Tracking down the killer, and the Cassatt painting, takes the teenagers on a thrill-packed adventure from the Art Institute of Chicago, to a tea room in Marshall Fields, to the grand finale in, of all places, a retirement home. Chicago Bound is loving and eventful, and most of all a great read.
From Diane Donovan, Senior eBook Reviewer, Midwest Book Review:
Chicago Bound is a powerful new Jake McGreevy novel that provides another thriller for middle-grade audiences; this one centered on Jake’s search in Chicago’s art world for clues to his mother’s untimely death.
When Jake accepts an invitation to join an elite group of students visiting Chicago for a two-week performing arts fundraising camp, he suddenly realizes that he’ll be seeing, for the first time, the place where his mother was killed by a hit-and-run driver. Moreover, he’ll be viewing the huge Mary Cassatt mural which his mother had been in the process of authenticating in the days before her death. With the discovery of a puzzling note from his mother hidden in the teddy bear which was her last gift to him, he comes to understand that his mother recognized a threat to her work and possibly her life – and provided a cryptic message to her family in the one place that would likely reach them.
Spicing his visit to Chicago is the opportunity to spend time with his friends Ben and Julie, both of whom match his skill at drawing quick conclusions and using technology to extend abilities, and who support his determination to investigate his mother’s death.
Right away they encounter a formidable obstacle in the form of one Dean Stanley, a take-charge director determined to keep their group in line and prevent any mishaps. When Jake discovers the reasons behind Dean Stanley’s fierce commitment to obedience and safety, it only lends fire to his evolving determination to find out what really happened to his mother in Chicago so many years ago.
Supported by his best friends, Jake follows his mother’s last footsteps which reveal art clues, issues of authenticity, and possibly a masterpiece which has yet to surface.
Mixed emotions accompany the protagonists at each step of their discoveries, making for a fast-paced and involving story line: ““My mother spent her life looking for this. She died because of it. I don’t know if I like the mural or hate it.”
Factor in unknown assailants who become determined to do anything to prevent Jake from learning the truth and the factor of time (his investigation must be done in the course of a short holiday, which is supposed to include performing for fundraising efforts) and add in the uncertainties of romantic possibilities with two very different girls and the stage fright of a friend who needs to overcome his fears to move ahead and you have a fine, multi-faceted read that pairs psychological overtones with a vivid, fast-paced plot.
Time is running out on many levels: for Jake, for his revelations about his mother’s last days and final contribution to the art world, and for a short stay in Chicago which is likely too quick to solve much of anything.
Like a compelling musical piece, Chicago Bound opens with an interesting promise of mystery and moves quickly and solidly to a crescendo of cat-and-mouse moves between Jake and his friends and unknown assailants who are committed to hiding the truth.
Readers will be fascinated to the end – and surprised by an ending which blends an art history investigation, a mother and son’s lasting connections, and commitments between good friends.
A definite 5-star book, I read this book without the benefit of the prior Jake McGreevy book and I felt it stood alone quite well. Jake, 15, and his friends Ben and Julie are off to a music “camp” for gifted musicians in Chicago that will raise money to help schools keep their music & afterschool programs. Jake’s “MacGuyver-like” talents provide some escapades and fun in the off time.
For Jake, this trip has extra poignancy, because Chicago is where his mother was killed when he was just a toddler. His mother had been there in Chicago to verify the provenance (history of ownership and authenticity) of a famous Mary Cassatt mural, and Jake stumbles upon clues that his mother felt she was in danger. In no time at all, Jake manages to be in danger as well.
END: Triumphant and Touching — and next up IS Jake McGreevy #3: Paris Plunder!
TAGS: Art, provenance, mother-son bond, Chicago World’s Fair.
READ-ALIKES: Readers may also enjoy Theodore Boone series by John Grisham.