Twelve-year-old Amanda Lester wouldn’t be caught dead going into the family business. Just because she’s related to Inspector G. Lestrade, that bumbler who sometimes worked with master sleuth Sherlock Holmes, doesn’t mean she should become a detective and give up her dream of becoming a filmmaker. Unfortunately, her plans are in jeopardy. Her latest project with the Stick Dog Filmmakers Club and Production Company isn’t coming together, and her control freak tendencies have driven away all her actors. If she doesn’t make a winning film soon, her parents will insist that she go into the L.A.P.D. young cadets training program, and her budding career will be over. So when Herb and Lila Lester suddenly send her to a secret English school for the descendants of famous detectives, Amanda resists-until she and her new friends notice drops of blood and weird pink substances in odd places. Are these strange happenings clues to a real mystery or simply part of the elaborate class project the teachers assign every year? The answer comes all too soon. When Amanda’s father disappears and the school’s cook is found dead with her head in a bag of sugar, the kids are certain that crimes are taking place. Now Amanda must embrace her destiny and uncover the truth. The only snag is that arch-villain Blixus Moriarty, a descendant of Holmes’s nemesis Professor James Moriarty, might be involved, and he doesn’t like nosy little girls interfering in his business.
As a child, I never really got into the whole detective thing. I was more into horror, so I’ve never really read any of the classic detective stories. I say this with a sense of irony, seeing as I own a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories and have never even cracked open the book.
Going into this series, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m clearly out of the age range for the book and it’s a genre I rarely explore, unless you count the Alex Cross series. But, I’m becoming a teacher and I have a son who is the correct age for the books, so I felt it was imperative that I check out this book and I’m glad I did.
I felt a connection to Amanda from the very beginning. Though I have never experienced a desire to be a film maker, I too, have struggled with the idea that things should be my way or the highway. So as Amanda’s last set of friends closes the door in her face, I couldn’t help but feel for the character. This connection helped to draw me in as Amanda’s life is turned upside down and she’s forced into a secret detective school in England. In a way, I felt Amanda’s new surroundings were reminiscent of the towns featured in cozy mysteries. Much like a cozy mystery, it is the quirky characters and mysterious plot that really added strength and charm to Amanda’s story.
My lack of knowledge of classic detectives did hinder my reading at times, but not because of the writing or the story. I found that it was my own OCD and desire to look into each detective, that kept distracting me. Regardless of this hindrance, I did find this book to be a delightful read and I look forward to reading more of the series… as well as eventually finding time to investigate historically famous detectives. This is definitely a series I plan to introduce my own children to and I hope they enjoy it as much as I did!