Once Upon A Crime

Once Upon A Crime

A Brothers Grimm Mystery

Book - 2015
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Gretel (yes, that Gretel) is now 35, very large, still living with her brother Hans, and working as a private investigator.

The small, sleepy town of Gesternstadt is shaken to its pretty foundations when the workshop of the local cart maker is burnt to the ground, and a body is discovered in the ashes. It is Gretel who notices that the cadaver is missing a finger. At first she does not see this as significant, as her mind is fully focused on a new case. Not that she wouldn't far rather be investigating an intriguing murder, but her client is willing to pay over the odds, so she must content herself with trying to trace three missing cats. It is not until she is further into her investigations that she realizes the two events are inextricably and dangerously connected, and that the mystery of the missing cats will lead her into perilous situations and frightening company.

Very soon Gretel finds herself accused of kidnapping Princess Charlotte, twice locked up in the cells at the Summer Schloss, repelling the advances of an amorous troll, strapped to a rack in Herr Schmerz's torture chamber, and fleeing a murder charge. With dubious help from her brother (whose scant wits are habitually addled by drink), she must prove her innocence, solve the puzzle of the unidentified corpse, and find the stolen cats before they meet a grisly end.

Publisher: New York :, Pegasus Crime,, 2015
Edition: First Pegasus Books cloth edition
ISBN: 9781605988122
160598812X
Branch Call Number: MYSTERY Brackston 2015
Characteristics: 248 pages ; 24 cm

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FindingJane Oct 31, 2016

There’s been a mix-up somewhere with the numbering of these criminal novels. In this one, numbered as the second in the Brothers Grimm series, Gretel is meeting the handsome, suave (even with a reduplicated name) General Ferdinand von Ferdinand for the very first time. However, the previously read novel (labeled number one), involving some purloined frog paintings, has the reader noting Gretel’s appreciation at seeing General von Ferdinand repeatedly, making it clear that she’s already acquainted with him. When I checked on another website, the same numbering system is shown, indicating this isn’t a fluke of Goodreads.com.

Once the reader gets his/her mind around the skewed timelines, it is refreshing to read about Gretel’s big case. Again, it’s not her first case since her clients come to her already informed about Gretel’s capabilities as a detective. Once again, she runs afoul of the pernicious and persnickety Kingsman Kapital Strudel. Repeatedly she finds herself in hot water and awful messes, usually when the amused General is about the place.

The series raises chuckle after chuckle as Gretel finds herself pursued by hungry lions, scratching furiously after leaving a crazy cat lady and ducking the amorous attentions of a besotted troll. It’s a merry, madcap romp as she improbably ties together the case of a trio of missing felines, a double murder and two star-crossed lovers. It’s a bawdy Shakespearean romp liberally sprinkled with hints of Terry Pratchett.

As always, Gretel and her beef-witted brother Hans retain their love of epicurean delights even as they struggle mightily through cold, mud and choke down less than appetizing fare. Whether first or second, this book lives up to its premise and its promise. Now, if they would only get the sequence right…

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