This is NOT a Tempe Brennan forensic investigation but a sequel to 'Virals', the novel featuring Victoria ('Tory') Brennan, Tempe's great-neice, published a year or so ago and aimed at what was described as the 'young adult' market.
'Virals' was built around a group of four mid-teens of impeccably politically correct composition (Irish American, Native American, African American and Jewish American ancestry!) whose parents work at a research institution and nature reserve on Loggerhead Island, offshore from Charleston, South Carolina. The kids live in an employee enclave on neighbouring - and otherwise pretty much deserted - Morris Island. The first novel involved illegal shenanigans surrounding the development and testing of a synthetic supervirus. Testing was carried out on a wolf-cross pup, rescued from its fate by our four heroes, all of whom inevitably contracted the virus. As a result, they are more than a little disconcerted to find that they periodically experience periods of super-enhanced senses and abnormal physical strenghth. They keep all this to themselves - well, they would, wouldn't they?
'Seizure' begins with the discovery that due to economic pressures the research institution is to be closed down and the two islands are to be sold for commercial development. Terrified by the prospect of being separated before they have resolved their viral issues, the gang are determined to do what they can to prevent the closure and sale, though an astronomic sum of money is clearly necessary. While avoiding other guests at an overblown party, Tory discovers the legend - or is it a legend? - of Ann Bonny, a notorious female pirate active in the early 1700s who was reported to have hidden a vast treasure in or around Charleston before her capture and possible execution. And so the adventure begins .....
Apart from the Sci-Fi element, 'Seizure' is in the direct tradition of Enid Blyton's 'Famous Five' - right down to the dog! At one point, the characters comment upon their collective similarity to 'The Goonies' - the group of treasure-seekers in a Stephen Spielberg story filmed by Richard Donner around 25 years ago. And that sums up the book - it never pretends to be anything more than a kids' adventure story, and at that level it works pretty well. There's lots of action, plenty of clues, any amount of secret tunnels and nocturnal expeditions, and a satisfying, if predictable, result.
I'd pitch the optimum age range a little lower than 'young adult' - my kids would have loved it from, say. 10 to 13. Within that age range, I'd hazard a guess that young readers would award an average of four - maybe even five stars. I confess that I much enjoyed wallowing in nostalgic escapism, but in that respect I've often been told that I'm not normal. I'm proud to agree! But if you read the book expecting Tempe Brennan, you're very likely going to be disappointed, and that might suggest one, or at most two stars. In the best traditions of cowardice I've decided to sit on the fence and settle for three stars - but I feel at least partly justified because in my view the publisher could and should do more to distinguish the 'Virals' series from mainstrean Kathy Reichs novels.
Despite my overall rating above, for those thinking of buying the book for what it is - a kids' adventure tale with a modest sci-fi component - 'Seizure' is, as I've said, worth four stars at least.