I enjoyed this book immensely during a recent road trip. (Don't worry, I wasn't driving.) It's a light read--short, sweet, and loaded with droll humor. Perfect for eating up the miles and blocking out the sound of squabbling children. But don't take this mystery too seriously. This isn't Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It more resembles the lip-twitching quirkiness of Tom Angleberger.
Here's a great example of London's dry wit: "Louisa Fargenstropple, Blandthorpe's maiden aunt, lived in the cottage on the back quarter of the estate. Though greatly advanced in years, she still drove herself about town, much to the annoyance of its citizens. She was not fond of the accelerator, and used it as sparingly as possible." The character names also add a fun dimension. Crumfellow, Moulderswitch, and Fargenstropple are just the sort of roll-off-your-tongue words my kids like to fling at each across the backseat while other people are trying to read. (Interspersed, of course, with "Are we there yet?" and "I have to go to the bathroom.")
As I was reading, I was trying to decide what made this book so much fun. Yes, the humor and quirkiness are entertaining, and the mystery is engaging, but it's so much more than that. This book has LIFE. The characters have real people idiosyncrasies. They're far-fetched and spot on at the same time. The Fargenstropples could be the crazy extended relatives you run into at your large family gatherings. (You know, the ones you go on road trips to avoid.) And London never misses with her timing. Put it all together and you have the kind of book that will make you grin from beginning to end.
Highly recommended for those with ticklish funny bones or those looking for something off the beaten path.