Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Decent plot, creative idea
Cons: Slow pace, characters don’t really grab
The Bottom Line:
Gretel as adult
A creative idea
Book didn’t grab me
Doesn’t Live Up to Promise of the Premise
Obviously, I enjoy fairy tales. Look at my love of Disney and the many, many modern takes on the genre I enjoy. So when Gretel and the Case of the Missing Frog Prints crossed my radar, I was immediately interested. And when I was offered a copy of the book for review, I couldn’t turn it down. Unfortunately, it just didn’t deliver on the premise.
The book features an all grown up Gretel of Hansel and Gretel fame. She is making a living as a detective while supporting brother Hans. Her latest case takes her to the city of Nuremberg, where she is hired by the Albrecht Durer the Much, Much Younger (and man who is 105). He has in his personal collection paintings by his ancestor Albrecht Curer the Younger. These pictures of frogs have been stolen, and he wants Gretel to find them. With Hans in tow (since they are staying with his friend Wolfie), Gretel heads to the city. But can she find this art work?
Now the title might lead you to believe that this book is one of the middle grade books I enjoy upon occasion. This book is firmly aimed at adults, however, since Gretel finds herself undercover at a brothel for parts of the book. This would still be on the edges of a cozy, really, since much of what happens in that space is only hinted at.
This is one of those hard books to review. I can see why others would enjoy it. For me, it didn’t quite work. Take the characters, for example. They are just kind of there. I liked a couple of them, but I found most of them annoying. Gretel falls into that camp with her obsession with fashion and the feeling at times that she was looking down on others. At other times, she could be sympathetic, but it wasn't enough to make me truly like her. I need to like the main character to really get into a book.
Likewise the plot was okay, but nothing special. The pacing was off, with a slow start and several scenes that didn’t add much to the plot. One complication is never really explained. I can guess as to what happened, but I’m not completely certain since there are two legitimate ways it could have gone. When we reach the climax, the main plot does make sense, and the clues were well hidden earlier in the book.
Those looking for many fairy tale references will be disappointed. There are a few, but they are kept to a minimum. On the other hand, fairy tale type characters do appear on a regular basis and play a part in the outcome of the story. We just don’t meet many characters we already know.
So it’s not that Gretel and the Case of the Missing Frog Prints was bad. I can see others enjoying it. It just didn’t grab my interest like I had hoped it would.
NOTE: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.