Friday, May 18, 2012
Super Sleuth Pick: Poison Most Vial
by Benedict Carey
What a breath of fresh air! In a market teeming with paranormal and dystopian fiction along comes a little old mystery, Poison Most Vial, a new murder mystery that features a smart and quirky girl named Ruby Rose who has to do some sleuthing to clear her father of murder charges. Ruby enlists her best friend, gangly but loveable T. Rex and a mysterious elderly neighbor the kids see watching the neighbohood's every move (shades of Hitchcock's "Rear Window").
When Dr. Ramachandran is found poisoned at DeWitt Polytechnic University, the police suspect Ruby's father. After all, her father has access to all the labs, he was present the night Ramachandran was found, and he served the professor hot tea on the night in question.
Ruby has to do something and do it quickly; her dad is her only relative, and if she loses him, she'll have no one. With T. Rex's help, Ruby writes a letter to the Window Lady, the neighborhood snoop. They're surprised when she leaves them a note with name of a lawyer who can help Ruby's dad and access to the city's medical examiner. It seems that Window Lady is a retired toxicologist; she really knows her poisons.
The kids begin investigating the murder and as they delve deeper and deeper into it, several things become clear: Ruby's father is innocent, there is more than one person who may be guilty, and the college is keeping secrets of its own.
It takes a murder and a poison to bring Mrs. Whitmore, the Window Lady, out of her apartment, but when she finally emerges, she's the driving force behind the investigation.
I loved the play on the title Poison Most Vial--the vial used in science labs instead of "vile" meaning disgusting. The cover is an eye-catcher and should entice fans of science and mysteries. From Library Media Connections: "it (the book) should be on hand in every elementary and middle school library." I loved the fact that the kids were afraid of the lurking and mysterious neighbor who hid in her apartment but she ended up befriending them. This just goes to show--don't make snap judgements.
Recommended grades 5-up. Early readers may not be able to follow the chapters about insulin, poison, and vials. No language.
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.