Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Review: Amanda Lester and the Red Spider Rumpus by Paula Berinstein

Amanda Lester, Detective Book 5
by Paula Berinstein
The Writing Show
Upper MG/Lower YA Mystery
ages 10+
338 pages

It only takes a moment to spill a secret. 

The detectives have managed to keep Legatum Continuatum's secrets safe for more than a hundred years, but that could soon change. Amanda and her friends have discovered that the red spiders of Ambleside have a talent that could expose everything. 

Unfortunately, Amanda's new stepfather knows about them too, and his plans are deadly. The kids try to get to the spiders first, but their attempt to save them just complicates matters. Then Amanda disappears and it falls to her friends to save the day. If they fail, she could die. The situation has never been more critical. The problem is that only one person knows how to find her, and they don't trust him. 


Packed with twists and turns, and even more surprises, this 5th book in the Amanda Lester Detective series grabs from the first page and doesn't let go until the end.

Now, stuck with the school in hiding, Amanda and her friends run across a new threat: a secret which could destroy their entire detective world. The group of young detectives discovers that the Legatum Continuatum has existed much longer than they first expected. And that the secrets surrounding it run deeper than thought. When they discover that red spiders could disclose it all and the bad guys are on the verge of getting this information, Amanda and her friends are up against the clock to save them all.

This is my favorite middle grade series this year, so I was looking forward to see which mystery would hook in Amanda and her friends next. Amanda and her friends are growing (maturing), and this book reflects that. Although it's packed with adventure, more time is spent on the mystery itself in this book. There's a little more depth and history behind the Legatum Continuatum. Also the character relations are deepening as well. It's a slow coming-of-age in many ways as the characters approach the problems with a tiny bit more calmness and thought than before--but then, this isn't exactly their first, big mystery.

I love the way the book grabs tidbits from the previous mysteries and integrates them into the on-going tale. This isn't a series which can easily be broken down into stand-alones. The characters and story build on the past experiences, making it difficult to dive in somewhere in the middle.

Amanda is a character, which often discovers more about herself as she ingeniously battles through the mystery. She tends to be head-strong and spontaneous, which gets her into trouble. The weaving in of her family problems and the difficulties of balancing the very different personalities of her friends, brings the entire thing home. She's a very real girl in a crazy situation and handles things as best she can, but without her friends, she couldn't do it. There's even some romance going on--kept very cute and sweet--but as with all teens, this isn't a clear cut, smooth ride either.

But the most important thing about this is the mystery. And it's a good one. It's hard to see where the whole thing is headed, and the detectives run across exciting bumps and stumbles along the way. The slight addition of magic gives the story a nice touch of could be's and imagination, allowing the reader to keep hold on to the illogical even when it's logic which guides the detectives through the mysteries.

In other words, I can't wait to see where Amanda and her friends go next.

All about the author. . .

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 and contact Paula here:

Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads - Paula's blog on Goodreads - The Writing Show podcasts - Newsletter

1 comment:

Unknown said...

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