Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy: Amanda Lester, Detective, Book 1 (Unabridged)
by Paula Berinstein
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A reluctant detective, a criminal mastermind, and sugar? Amanda Lester wouldn't be caught dead going into the family business. Her ancestor, Sherlock Holmes's colleague Inspector G. Lestrade, is a twit. Nevertheless her parents refuse to see his flaws, and she's going to a secret English school for the descendants of famous detectives whether she likes it or not. When Amanda arrives at the dreaded school, she considers running away - until she and her new friends discover blood and weird pink substances in odd places. At first they're not sure whether these oddities mean anything, but when Amanda's father disappears and the cook is found dead with her head in a bag of sugar, they're 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.
Nancy Drew Meets Harry Potter, with a Nifty Sherlock Holmes Angle
Not long ago, I received and read an ARC of the paperback version of this book and thought it was extremely creative and well-written, which didn't surprise me, having long been a fan of Paula Berinstein's podcast, The Writing Show. When I saw Allan Corduner provided the narration for the audio book, I had to give it a listen. Corduner is a masterful narrator and voice actor, and had narrated The Book Thief and served as the voice of Snape in the Harry Potter audiobooks.
The audiobook did not disappoint, and in fact I felt it brought a whole new life to the story. In Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy, which I'd describe as Nancy Drew meets Harry Potter, the young Amanda reluctantly enters a clandestine detective school for descendents of famous detectives, at her parents' request. Her ancestor is none other than Inspector Lestrade, of Sherlock Holmes lore. Not only is she embarrassed to be an ancestor of the police inspector that was always overshadowed and outsmarted by Holmes, but she really prefers to follow her passion, filmmaking.
Once she enters the school, things begin to change. She meets a colorful cast of students and teachers and gets caught up in solving a perplexing, real-life mystery. The readers will get caught up too, especially in the way Corduner brings the creepy environment and standout characters to life. It adds a dramatic flair that puts the story firmly in classics territory. I highly recommend this book for young readers, and for adults who have a fond nostalgia for Holmes or simply enjoy an engaging mid-grade mystery adventure.