Gretel (yes, that Gretel) is all grown up in this P.J. Brackston novel, Once Upon a Crime: A Brothers Grimm Mystery. No longer the girl from the fairy tale, Gretel and her brother have found that adult life is not all it’s cracked up to be. It’s left Gretel cash-poor, somewhat bulky (not fat, mind you), still living with her brother, and with a serious addiction to fashion. Although her renown as a detective seems to be more by accident than design, Gretel is in no financial position to turn away her neighbor who is willing to pay her to look into a case of missing felines. So begins a pursuit of mystery and mayhem that will take Gretel from the king’s dungeons, to a troll’s cave, to a giant’s lair, and beyond.
This is an absolutely delightful mystery. It’s just the right blend of serious and comic, with fairy tale characters thrown in for good measure. It’s everything you want a novel like this to be: fresh-voiced, surprising, funny, well-plotted, with characters that seem to leap off the page. It’s more of a comedy than a mystery, though all the elements of a good crime novel are there as well. Once Upon a Crime is a book readers won’t want to miss.
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