From New York Times bestselling author P. J. Brackston comes the prequel to Gretel and the Case of the Missing Frog Prints, the new novel in the rollicking series featuring Gretel, all grown up and working as a private investigator in 18th century Bavaria.
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
You can find my other reviews of Paula Brackston’s novels HERE.
I was sent a copy of Once Upon A Crime from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, so I have not had the pleasure of reading the first book in this series. In fact, I didn’t even know this series existed until the publisher emailed me. I’m going to have to start stalking Paula Brackston so I can stay in the loop about her work. Everything she writes is MAGIC.
Going into this novel, the 2013 film Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, immediately came to mind. OUAC is definitely reminiscent of this film, but where the story and characterization in the movie fell flat for me, Paula captures and creates with such wit and comedic timing in her own spin on the story.
I absolutely LOVED experiencing the same cleverness and lyrical quality I love about Paula’s Historical Fiction/Fantasy novels in this wholly entertaining, satirical masterpiece. Once Upon A Crime is full of knee-slapping hilarity, shady scenarios, and damn good writing. All things I’ve come to expect from Backston’s work.
Set in 1776 Bavaria, Brackston weaves together a comical mystery revolving around a Princess, dead bodies, missing kittens, a love-sick giant and a lusty troll. I have to say, the characters were more absorbing than the plot for me and that’s exactly how I like it.
Thatched roofs, taverns and cottages awash in the warm glow of walk-in fire places, and the kind of frothy beer that strikes up memories of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast are all images that invaded the senses in OUAC. The world building is nothing short of a fairy-tale.
As a spoof on the traditional Hansel and Gretel children’s story, Paula achieves the perfect adult retelling casting Hansel and Gretel as slap-stick detectives in their mid-thirties. The story flowed at a leisurely pace, and the plot kept me guessing until the end. I was completely charmed and humored by this Brothers Grimm Mystery, and I look forward to reading the rest in the series.
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