This book was reviewed for Lola’s Blog Tours.
Bernstein’s Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy is the first in a new middle-grade detective series a lá Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and The Three Investigators. This is a world where the great literary detectives are real people. .Amanda is a young aspiring film director descended from one Inspector Lestrade, of Sherlock Holmes fame. Against her will, her family moves to the UK, enrolling her in the Legatum Continuatum, a special secret school for training young detectives. To get in at all, one must be descended from one of the great detectives.
Once there, however, Amanda finds a group of friends, and finds herself caught up in the classes, and in solving the appearance of patches of pink sugar that show up in places all over the school grounds. Add to that mild mystery explosions and murder, and her attention is thoroughly captured. She realises she can equate being a detective with filmmaking, helping her enjoy it more. Along with this comes the realisation that one occupation doesn’t need to eclipse the others.
I will admit, I had a difficult time getting into this book, though I enjoy detective stories of all varieties. The writing felt flat at first. Once at Legatum, with new people, things improved.
At the beginning, Amanda comes across as a completely unlikeable protagonist. She’s too bossy, not in a good way, and she seems very scatter-brained, jumping from topic to topic. Part of my dislike is her entrenched hatred of Sherlock Holmes. I love Doyle’s stories, and I’d love to live in a world that contained, or once did, a living, breathing Sherlock. I think I’d like to attend this school. Haha, I do need to suspend my disbelief more though. Some of these skills they are learning need very specialised training. I have a grounding in forensic anthropology/archaeology. That alone was enough study to last me several years.
Based on later revelations, that required a bit more suspension of belief than I could muster, I would have given a rating of 3. My cubs of relevant age, however, absolutely loved it. They reminded me of my own philosophy as a writer. There are myriad worlds, and the rules for each are never the same.
???? Recommended for fans of Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and The Three Investigators.