Gr 6-10 When Nick investigates what he thinks are screams coming from the bushes in the park, he discovers the school outcast practicing his trumpet. Ratbag, a lanky, unkempt black boy who has a reputation as an unpleasant loner, may be different, but he is blessed with phenomenal innate musical talents. His talent is brought to the attention of the school band director, who uses his teen prodigy to lead his British school to the national playoffs in Amsterdam, where a mystery begins. Nick and Ratbag become unknowingly involved in a major drug-smuggling operation, and the boys are used as bait for police. Plans backfire, but after more than one brush with death, the culprits are caught, and the teens finally make it home, where, readers gather, Ratbag goes on to become a famous jazz musician. This story begins well, as readers develop an interest in Ratbag and his tremendous musical abilities. However, when the mystery element is introduced, the story bogs down badly. The author's intricate detailing of the plot and especially the setting at this point gets extremely confusing and, finally, boring. This book loses focus on Ratbag's development as a person and a talented musician. Readers will be put off by the introduction of a poorly done mystery. Deb Andrews, Kokomo-Howard County Public Library, Ind.