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House Read: Nooks & Crannies

December 17, 2015

nookdMy Current Read Is: Nooks & Crannies by Jessica Lawson 
Published by: Simon & Schuster, 2015
Cover Illustration: Natalie Andrewson 
Read This: While fending off scheming relatives and murder at an English country house party.

Tabitha Crum’s only friend in the world is her mouse Pemberley, but since she is a child in England in the early 20th century, she is fairly philosophical about it. She has devoted all the time and energy that might have gone toward forming relationships with other people into developing her deductive capabilities. Her great passion in life is to become an investigator for the Metropolitan Police, a.k.a. Scotland Yard.
Her parents, the Crums, are reprehensible on a Vernon & Petunia Dursley sort of way. They have determined that Tabitha is going to be dropped off at the orphanage now that she is almost twelve. Again, Tabitha is fairly philosophical about it.
However, before that fate can befall her, she receives an invitation from the Countess of Windermere to a weekend party at her estate. There are two downsides to this:
1.) The Countess may or may not be a murderess, but her manor is definitely haunted.
2.) Five other children, including the pestilential Barnaby Trundle, have been invited.
Neither of these things bode well for Tabitha, but the reality is even stranger. The Countess has a penchant for carrying knives in her handbag, the maid is terrified of the ghosts, and most of the art in the manor seems to be centered around ghastly murders from history. This is certainly the sort of place for Tabitha to stretch her deductive skills.

This book is aimed at the middle grade market, so it’s not very difficult for an adult reader to work out the mystery, but it’s still fun watching Tabitha put the pieces together. This is very much based on the English house party murder of yesteryear. Since I happen to love those (I have every book every published by Nagio Marsh, Josephine Tey, Dorothy Sayers, and most of Agatha Christie,) the whole thing works for me.
Tabitha is a little precious, but that is to be expected from a protagonist. I think her parents were a little over the top, but but they work well in structure that Lawson is writing in.
If you’re looking for a fun read for yourself or something for a younger reader who likes mysteries this would be a good choice.
The book has some very fun illustrations by Natalie Andrewson at the chapter headings with larger, full-page illustrations scattered throughout.


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