The Great Cake Mystery
Review: In what is presumably the first in a series for children, Alexander McCall Smith tells readers how Precious Ramotswe, owner of Botswana's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, got her start … as an 8-year-old girl in The Great Cake Mystery. (The book was first published in 2011 as Precious and the Puggies, a Scots translation of the story.)
The book's opening paragraph illustrates the style and, to a somewhat lesser extent, the content of this book:
Have you ever said to yourself, "Wouldn't it be nice to be a detective?" Most of us will never have the chance to make that dream come true. Detectives, you see, are born that way. Right from the beginning they just know that this is what they want to be. And right from the beginning they show that solving mysteries is something they can do rather well.
The plot involves some missing pastries and sweets, food that has mysteriously disappeared from Precious's school. Some of the students think that Polowko, a "rather round boy" with sticky hands is the culprit but Precious isn't so sure. One night as she lay in her bed she comes up with a solution to the problem, and sets about laying a trap for the real thief.
But it was one thing to be sure about something and quite another to prove it to others. That was something that all detectives knew. Although she had only started being a detective, Precious was well aware that you had to be able to show people something if you wanted them to believe it.
Put simply, The Great Cake Mystery is charming. It is very short and seems written in such a way that parents can — and should — share with their children the joy Precious takes in solving this mystery. (Indeed, the book opens with a scene of Precious's father telling her a story from his childhood.) There is nothing complicated about the plot, and children of all ages can certainly relate to Precious. And though kids won't likely appreciate it, there's even a reference at the end as to how she came up with the name of her detective agency, something she was clearly destined to do at some point in her life. This is a delightful book featuring a most endearing character.
As of the date of this review, no Lexile measure has been assigned to this book. The publisher lists is as appropriate for readers aged 7 and older.
Acknowledgment: Random House provided an ARC of The Great Cake Mystery for this review.
Review Copyright © 2012 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party
Pantheon (Hardcover), March 2011
ISBN-13: 9780307378392; ISBN-10: 030737839X
Location(s) referenced in The Great Cake Mystery: Botswana
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The Great Cake Mystery by Alexander McCall Smith — A Precious Ramotswe Mystery
Publisher: Anchor Books
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: April 2012
List Price: $6.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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