This is a super-cute romp featuring 12-year-old Samantha Spinner, who thinks she got dissed in her missing and assumed-dead Uncle's will. He left her a rusty red umbrella (!) with the duh-obvious tag, "Watch out for the RAIN," while her younger brother Nipper gets the NY Yankees and her older sister $2.4 trillion. Yep, trillion. Can you say, "shopping spree?"
But Samantha's kinda okay with it, because of all her family, she's the only one not entirely convinced Uncle Paul's -- you know, dead. Missing, maybe. In trouble, probably. Needing help? Most definitely.
She quickly discovers the map on the inside of the umbrella, and descends into the underground network of tunnels and amazing super-fast transports to exotic locations like the Eiffel Tower in Paris! (Read very carefully for clues that set up the next book...specifically anything about clowns, chinchillas and "large reptiles". It's exceptionally cleverly done.)
And just as quickly she learns "RAIN" is an acronym for the all-black clad Ninjas -- "The Royal Academy of International Ninjas" -- who've tracked the umbrella and want it something bad -- for purely nefarious pursuits.
Suddenly, getting home safely, much less rescuing Uncle Paul, is more difficult than she thought!
We entered this series on book #2. I had super-high hopes for chinchilla chicanery, but then little brother Nipper brings home a komodo dragon and ...let me go back to the beginning.
Samantha gets a gift from a most unlikely source -- Uncle Paul. Unlikely, because he's still missing. It's a pair of purple spectacles (fancy word for glasses), and they reveal a pneumatic tube in the table leg marked PSST. In the tube is a message from "Horace": Watch out for the SUN.
She promptly sends a message back through the tube, and she's on the hunt for Uncle Paul. She's convinced he's Horace Temple, the producer hired by her sister, Buffy, to pull off the play of the century, complete with unicorns, yet to be purchased.
Her little brother, Nipper, finds a brochure for chinchillas direct from Chile in their mother's veterinary specialist office, and several days later, twelve boxes (a gross) arrive. One of the rodents rips her umbrella, the map of the magtrains underground. She repairs it with some tape, and her billionaire sister, Buffy, flies the family to New York City for help with her play.
Once she gets to New York City, Sam and Nipper use the glasses to go to Cleopatra's Needle, where they find another PSST message using the specs and in a railing there's another pneumatic tube. But it contains Sam's message to Uncle Paul. Strike one.
On the floor in the hallway of Buffy's penthouse suite, they find four Word Whammy! cards: A,L,I,M. Of course, Nipper finds them and shuffles them and then can't remember their proper order.
This leads them on a whirlwind trip to Mali, which is the absolute wrong place to look for Uncle Paul. Strike Two. It's also where they pick up the clowns tailing them. Yep, clowns, complete with big feet, red noses, and lethal, steel-sided flapjacks. All members of the Society of Universal Nonsense. Or, SUN.
I won't reveal any more plot twists and turns. This is a delightful read from start to finish!