It`s Gretel time again (yes that Gretel) my favourite PI is back and cursing in the fast lane, as she is all at sea in her latest adventure on the good ship Arabella, where the case of the missing crew members has her and Hans heading for the life boats. Gretel mysteries are set in the world of the fairy tale , but this only makes it a even a better who done it , lots of red herrings , but best of all great humour . Paula Brackston is not just a gifted writer but a writer that makes me smile and that for me puts her up there with the best. Gretel is not just a must for a summer read , it`s a must read any time of the year.
Gretel- yes, THAT Gretel, of Hansel and Gretel fame- has grown up to become Bavaria's premier private investigator in 1776, much sought-after when one has a sticky problem. Hans, who has his virtues, comes along for the ride.
But- Gretel aspires to more. Although not a sylph, she pursues being a fashionista, even when all events conspire against her. And her crush- who seems to be crushing back- generally only encounters her at her least glamorous moments...
In this volume, Gretel is hired to take a cruise, and solve the problem(s) that are plaguing it. She prepares for much elegance, but sadly, that is not the sort of cruise this is. Also, Hans meets a figure from his past that has him roundly intimidated. Add a mischievous sea sprite, a mermaid with an agenda, and nefarious other plots...
I love the way Gretel is written- so very savvy in so many ways, and yet so oblivious about some things! And I love the theme of the disastrous fates of her beloved wigs.
The plot is nicely complex, with lots of twists.
If you re keen on historical accuracy, this may not be the series for you. I enjoy the intentional play of history and anachronisms.
Very recommended, especially if you enjoy a somewhat unreliable narrator!
I received this book in exchange for writing an honest review.
My thanks to Katie McGuire and Iris Blasi, my contacts at Pegasus Books for my hardcover review copy of this book!
Gretel, (yes, THAT Gretel!) who now runs a private detective agency with the help (and often hindrance!) of her brother Hans. Let’s just say that Gretel definitely got the brains in the family!
Gretel has been hired by Captain Tobias Ziegler of the good ship Arabella to track down a mermaid that is causing him to lose superstitious crewmen. The mermaid is heard singing in the evenings and has occasionally been sighted.
Ziegler is suspicious of his rival (and better outfitted) Captain Thorston Sommer of the good ship Fair Fortune and also the good ship Pretty Penny. But it is soon obvious that Captain Sommer is also a victim of the mermaid’s haunting songs.
When the cook is murdered aboard the Arabella and then discovered aboard the Fair Fortune, the Captain demands quick results from Gretel before he loses anymore men. Gretel and Hans take off in a lifeboat to explore two nearby islands.
The story moves at breakneck speed, on sea, on land, and even in the air at times. The riddling clues of a Sea Sprite (which everyone knows does not exist!), the discovery of the real mermaid, smugglers, a man running from his past, an expert on seabirds, and a man whose present is all a sham all come together to make an exciting fantasy mystery! And of course there is Hans’ Merhund, which he buys with his winnings at cards!
Lighthearted at times and sometimes dark, the story makes for an excellent read! I encourage readers to check out the other Brothers Grimm Mysteries by this same author! They are worth the time!
3.5 stars This is a very quirky mystery series. I read the second book in the series last year and while it was quirky it was also pretty enjoyable. PJ Brackston is short for Paula Brackston who most famously writes what I call ‘the witch books‘.
I’m a huge fan of her witch books and her writing style, so when this series came across my nightstand for review I agreed even though I started with the second book. I enjoyed the whole ‘Gretel as a sleuth’ idea and when I read the book I found lots of things to love about the series.
I love the whole fairy tale and murder mystery idea that the series is based on. Even though I started with the second book in the series I was able to connect to the characters for the most part and follow along with the back story without any real struggle. So when this third book came out I gladly decided to read it!
This book combined some of my favorite things….fairy tales and murder mysteries. It was really cute and a fun little escape. It took me a bit to sort some things out since this is the second book in a series, I felt like I was missing a couple of things in the landscape, like how did she become a private investigator in the first place?
As far as the dialogue goes, I struggled a bit with some of the statements. For example, this book is supposed to be set in the 1700s Bavaia…..did they have vodka martinis then? There were lots of little things like this that seemed more like modern dialogue and unlikely in the historic period. Same with some of the hygiene things….people in the 1700s just didn’t care that much about personal hygiene etc.
But once I accepted the fact that this story was a fairy tale and anything could happen in a fairy tale so I just took it at face value and tried to let it not annoy me…it was hard but I tried. Sometimes I just wanted to scream ‘that’s not historically accurate’ but this wasn’t marketed as a historic fiction novel so in the end I just had to let it go and enjoy the story.
Also the constant references to Gretel’s weight was kind of annoying. I don’t know that it added much to the story….it was lighthearted and comical at times but a couple of comments was plenty to get the point across.
All that said, I liked the magical/fantasy elements in the story and the overall premise. The mystery was enough to keep me interested. The book over all was cute and entertaining as well as funny. I liked that Gretel was a more mature heroine and she had a unique and quirky way of looking at things and the mystery. I liked her, I don’t know that I loved her, but I liked her enough to keep reading the book to see what happens next.
Brackston is probably best known for her ‘witch books’, which I love, and I thought this new genre (cozy mystery) was a fun little detour for her. She does a good job with fantasy, and while I liked this book just fine, I still think her strongest work comes from the witch books.