I don’t read a ton of crime fiction, so if you’re interested in getting me to read a crime novel, lead with the fact that Gretel (yes, that Gretel) is your detective. The pitch I received for PJ Brackston’s new novel Once Upon a Crime: A Brothers Grimm Mystery was just too whimsical and fun to refuse. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. I promise that my nose will have no reason to grow after writing this review. Fairy tale humor, folks. You should probably get used to it.*
Set in 18th Century Bavaria, Gretel of brother and breadcrumb and gingerbread house fame has grown up to become a detective. Her hapless brother Hans (I can only assume he thought “Hansel” was too juvenile a moniker? Or perhaps that was explained in the first book? Technically this is a prequel though, so I shouldn’t be behind. Must be a Bavarian thing.) still lives with his sister. Gretel tolerates him and his drunken tomfoolery because he’s her brother and she loves him… And he’s a good cook. Who turns down a personal chef? I mean, really.
Gretel’s latest case is an exercise in fairy tale craziness. From chasing down a crazy cat lady’s beloved pets to romancing a troll, Gretel has her work cut out for her. One minute she’s trying to help a girl out of a jam, the next she’s facing (completely unfounded) murder charges. Can’t a girl get a spa treatment without running across a corpse?! Gretel is a refreshing heroine, unapologetic about her plus sized stature and her love for fine food, high fashion, and designer shoes. I’m pretty sensitive toward unsympathetic or bombastic descriptions of large people in books, and there were a couple of times I was worried this book was headed in that direction. In the end, though, Gretel’s confidence and the way she OWNED IT made all the difference. No snacking guilt for this girl. She’ll rock those Timmy Chews (I know, right?!) from here to Never-Never Land. Gretel was downright fierce. This novel is a light read that’s big on humor and fractured fairy tale hijinks. It’s got an irresistible Shrek vibe about it, so if you’re in the mood for that sort of thing, Once Upon a Crime: A Brothers Grimm Mystery can’t be beat.
Talk to me Bookworms! If you could turn a fairy tale character into a detective, who would you choose?
*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*