Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews: A Pocketful of Murder

Publish December 4, 2015

Everything seems to be going wrong in Isaveth Breck’s life. Her mother is dead, her father is arrested for murder, and her older sister barely makes enough money at the factory to feed Isaveth and her two little sisters. But resourceful Isaveth, who has a talent for cooking magic spell-tablets and a strong sense of determination, sets out to exonerate her father. And she has an ally ­­— Quiz, a mysterious street-boy with a black eye-patch and a rusty bicycle. He appears when she most needs him and has an uncanny knack for investigation. A Pocketful of Murder, by R. J. Anderson, is an adventure-filled whodunit set in a world that is not that different than ours: a kind of evil Edwardian England powered by magic instead of electricity. The development of industry has created poverty and injustice, a socialist revolution is brewing, and the nobility cling to their luxurious lifestyle, supported by a brutal police force. Anderson does an excellent job creating this alternate universe, with careful detail and strong, believable characters. Isaveth’s little sisters, Mimmi and Lilet, bicker and misbehave in a rivalry familiar to anyone with siblings, and Isaveth keeps finding the courage to persevere, despite her self-doubt and fear. While the solution to the mystery was slightly confusing, the puzzle is clever and complicated, with some satisfying twists. Anderson leaves the door open for more developments in what we can only hope will be a series. Isaveth and Quiz are compelling and delightful, and readers are sure to want more of their breathtaking adventures.

A Pocketful of Murder

R. J. Anderson
Atheneum Books/Simon & Schuster Canada
ISBN 13: 978-1-4814-3771-4