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Monday, October 11, 2010

Case Closed? Written by Susan Hughes and illustrated by Michael Wandelmaier. Kids Can Press, 2010. $18.95 ages 10 and up

" The United States launched the largest air and sea search in naval history but found nothing. Mysteries abound. In 1940, a navigational tool called a sextant and a human skeleton were found on an uninhabited island (today's Nikumaroro). More recently, other artifacts have been found on the island, including an aluminum panel, a piece of clear Plexiglass (the thickness and curvature of an Electra window) and a woman's size 9 heel dating back to the 1930s. There are those who believe that, like Star Dust, Earhart's plane was swept away by natural forces. Perhaps it was carried off the island reef by ocean tides to where it now lies waiting to be recovered."

Some mysteries are never solved, and some are closer to a solution now than ever before in history. Much has changed since 1457 BCE when Egypt's first female pharaoh disappeared. Now DNA can help to solve long-ago mysterious happenings. Scientists have been and continue to use new technologies and forensic evidence to try to solve cases that have been unsolved over long years, and even centuries. It is, in fact, DNA that closes the case for Hatshepsut. There are entries here about the Franklin Expedition, the Arabian city of Ubar, and six other mysteries from both ancient and modern times. In each case, modern science is providing some help in trying to bring solution by focusing on the people, the transportation and even other civilizations. There are maps, photos, diagrams and artwork to help the reader understand the evidence as it is known today.

Some of the cases have been solved, while others offer new findings that might help the reader decide if the given results are satisfactory. A world map provides the 'where' for each case. An introduction in each section provides the most up-to-date information. Then, the mystery is plotted in point form and background information shared. An explanation about the methods, assumptions and data gathered follows and finally, a decision is made about the case itself...closed? or still open to interpretation and further research? We read the files, meet the investigators and learn about the search methods and tools used in each separate case.

In a very infiormative and compelling book, the author has provided much food for thought, a clear explanation for the research and analysis being used to make new discoveries, and an invitation to delve further into the mysteries presented. A glossary and index follow.

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