Mystery of the Suspicious Spices
Chapter 1 A New Mystery?
“This is the coolest castle I’ve ever seen!” Ethan Briar exclaimed.
“It’s not a castle. It’s a palace,” his twin sister, Ella, corrected him. “It says so right here in Dad’s guidebook. ‘Taj Mahal’ means ‘crown of palaces.’ ”
Ethan shrugged. “Castle, palace, whatever. It’s still awesome!”
“An emperor named Shah Jahan
built it in memory of his wife back in the sixteen hundreds,” their dad, Andy, explained.
“It has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world,” their mom, Josephine, added. “Millions of people visit it every year.”
“Wow!” Ella stared in awe at the white marble building. It was really beautiful—and really big, too!
The Taj Mahal was the latest stop on the Briar family’s trip across India. So far, they’d visited a tea plantation, a desert, and a snow-capped mountain.
They had ridden on a small, old-fashioned train called a “toy train” that chugged up steep hills. They’d seen lots of temples, including one shaped like a giant stone frog. Tomorrow morning, they were flying to the city of Mumbai, which was on the Arabian Sea.
Mrs. Briar was a travel writer for their hometown newspaper, the Brookeston Times. Her job was to write articles about interesting places all over the world. The Briars had already been to Venice, Italy; Paris, France; and Beijing, China. Their last adventure before India was a safari in Africa! While Mrs. Briar worked,
Mr. Briar homeschooled Ethan and Ella in their second-grade lessons.
Mr. Briar pointed his camera at the twins. “Let me get a photo of you kids standing on the steps. Wait. Why can’t I see anything?”
“You forgot to take off the lens cap, Dad,” Ethan told him.
Mr. Briar laughed. “Oh, right! Okay, here we go. Smile!” Click!
Just then, Mrs. Briar’s cell phone rang. She answered it. “Hello? Yes, this is Jo Briar.”
She spoke to the person on the other end for a few moments. When she hung up, she said, “That was Mr. Deepak Singh. He’s an old friend of Grandpa Harry, and he lives in Mumbai. He invited us to dinner tomorrow night.”