Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy book coverIn her book of the Amanda Lester series, Paula Berinstein provides young readers with an innovative re-imagining of the world of detectives and criminals.

I don’t read a lot of middle-grade or young adult books, but I found this one intriguing. The story is set in a world where the famous literary characters like Sherlock Holmes are real people. The main character, Amanda Lester, is the descendant of Inspector Lestrade.

When we first meet Amanda, I must say she’s not very likeable. She’s an aspiring filmmaker who doesn’t get along with her fellow filmmakers or her parents. And she hates the fact that she is descended from the bumbling Inspector Lestrade. Adding her frustration, her parents insist on moving from California to England where Amanda is being enrolled in a secret school for descendants of famous detectives.

In a way, this part borrowed heavily from J.K Rowling. A secret school for people of a certain inherited ability, which is divided into four houses. And when Amanda and a few of her new friends begin sneaking around and getting in trouble in order to solve a mystery, it felt a little like Harry Potter Redux.

That said, there is a lot of exciting action that young readers will enjoy. After a school building explodes, Amanda and her friends are determined to get to the bottom of it, unsure of whether the whole thing has been staged as a school assignment or whether there is something more nefarious going on. The stakes grow increasingly dire the deeper Amanda digs.

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