Booklist starred (May 1, 2015 (Vol. 111, No. 17))
Grades 3-6. This loving homage to classic mysteries features an early twentieth-century English setting, a snowed-in manor house, mistaken identities, a decades-old secret, hidden passageways, and a passel of precocious children. Tabitha Crum, the unfortunate child of greedy, awful adoptive parents, receives a mysterious invitation to the home of a reclusive, famously philanthropic countess for the weekend. Her parents are hoping for a profitable windfall, but all Tabitha wants is an adventure. Once Tabitha and the other guests, five other children her age, arrive, they finally discover their purpose: the countess is looking for her long-lost grandchild, and since they’re all adopted, it’s very likely one of them. Yet something is askew. Children start disappearing, and Tabitha, who’s a great fan of Inspector Pensive mystery novels, uses her powers of deduction and her faithful pet mouse, Pemberley, to root out clues. But she finds more than just secrets; long starved for affection from her horrid parents, Tabitha is delighted to discover some heartening friendships in the process as well. Lawson offers a compelling puzzle, vividly drawn characters, and a clever and capable young detective, who bravely sniffs out clues before the final secrets are revealed—with everyone together in the parlor, naturally.