Friday, January 29, 2016

Review: Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy by Paula Berinstein

and the 
Amanda Lester Detective Series, Book 1
by Paula Berinstein
The Writing Show
Middle Grade/Tween Mystery
386 pages

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 seeming clues 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.

Available for purchase at:


The first paragraph already made me an Amanda Lester fan. I have a soft spot for Sherlock Holmes (always have had), and the idea that one of Detective Lestrade's (a police detective who had close ties with Mr. Holmes) descendants would be a girl, who wants nothing to do with her ancestry had me smiling right away. Especially when she calls Sherlock Holmes 'Mr. La-di-da boring detective, whoop-de-doo.'

Another huge bonus is the added information at the front of the book. There are maps, floor plans, a glossary and other goodies which allow a reader to visually get everything laid out before the mystery begins--and also as a great aide once the story gets underway. And at the end of the book, there is a list with descriptions of other great detectives, questions to help with class discussions and a nice author interview.

Amanda is a girl with lots of spunk, tenacity, and won't take no for an answer. . .unless it's her parents. Even when she's forbidden to follow her hobby (film-making) and shipped off to some detective school in the UK, she manages to make it all shift in her direction. She's easily distracted and, at times, a little bit scattered brained, but it makes her that much more lovable.

I really enjoyed the fact that the mystery takes place in a 'detective' school. In some ways, it reminded me of the famous Hogwarts (4 different houses, unexpected things around every corner), which made the story that much more endearing. There's lots of fun little details here and there, but there's never an overload on descriptions either. It's just enough at the right times.

As to the story itself, it's a wonderful mystery which is perfect for kids around ten to fourteen years old. Amanda and her friends aren't out to find trouble, but rather notice that something is up bit by bit. This allows the tension to build, while the layers of secrets slowly come to light. It's unpredictable, full of surprises and seasoned with just the right amount of humor.

Summed up, this is a great story which is sure to catch young mystery lovers' attention, and I can only recommend it.

And here she is. . .

Paula Berinstein is nothing like Amanda. For one thing, she’s crazy about Sherlock Holmes. For another, she’s never wanted to be a filmmaker. In addition, compared to Amanda she’s a big chicken! And she wouldn’t mind going to a secret school at all. In fact, she’s hoping that some day she’ll get to build one.

You can find more about her at. . .

Paula's blog on Goodreads:
Paula's Goodreads profile: Amanda Lester's Facebook page:
Paula's Twitter account: @pberinstein
The Amanda Lester, Detective Facebook page:


Unknown said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed the book, Tonja! Thank you so much for the lovely review.

Deanie Humphrys-Dunne said...

That sounds like a really cute, interesting book. Congratulations Ms. Berinstein.

Lola said...

I am happy to hear you enjoyed this book. I read this book a while ago and loved it. I really liked Amanda and how she's a descendant of a famous detective and doesn't want to have anything to do with her heritage at first made for an interesting story. I also liked all the additional information, like floorplans and such. It also reminded me a bit of Harry Potter with the school and four houses. The mystery and build-up is really done well. I am currently reading the third book in the series and it's such a fun series so far!