If you can get past the idea that the police would take one look at a dead body on the floor of the museum, a bottle of poison clutched in his hand, and immediately declare it a suicide without searching the room nor doing an autopsy, then you can settle back and enjoy the ride.
Despite this rather glaring plot-hole, A Pocketful of Eyes by Australian author Lili Wilkinson is actually an enjoyable read. How refreshing to come across a book in the Young Adult genre, aimed at girls, that does NOT contain gorgeous vampires, an angsty heroine, a love triangle with Bad Boy and Nice- Boy-But-Kinda-Bad-Also, and lots of brooding.
Bee Ross is volunteering in the taxidermy department of Melbourne’s Natural History Museum over the summer, before starting her last year of high school, when two mysteries fall into her lap. The first is the apparent suicide of her mentor, found dead in the Red Rotunda room of the Museum. The second is, just who is the new boy Toby, working with her?
Bee has her doubts whether Gus really committed suicide – she’s more inclined to believe it a murder. And so, with Toby’s help, she sets out to uncover the real truth.
It’s a wonderful mystery story, one that actually had me guessing pretty much right up until the end. And Bee is an absolutely delightful character. She’s dealing with a few upheavals in her life – her mother’s new romance, her best friend and Bee’s ex-boyfriend getting together, her growing attraction to Toby that she tries to ignore. And of course, the death of Gus, her mentor from the museum. But there’s no angst to Bee – there’s no doom and gloom to her. A level-headed, rather quiet and solitary teen, she’s a fan of mysteries. When she was young, she wanted to be a “girl detective” – think Trixie Beldon. :D
The clues come together well, leading to a satisfactory – and rather surprising – ending. And yes, Bee does gather all suspects together, in time-honoured fashion, and solves the crime. :D
I think of all the characters in the book, my absolute favourite was Bee’s mother. Loved D&D, video games, fantasy, total geek. Very much reminded me of me – without the D&D playing. :D
I can see A Pocketful of Eyes turning into a series – Bee Ross, Girl Detective.
I did enjoy this book – well written, engaging characters, satisfyingly solved crime. I’d definitely recommend it to fans of YA, particularly those who are tired of the same ol’ same ol’ cookie-cutter brooding vampires that is so prevalant in YA today.
**Published May 1st 2011. I received a free copy of this book from the Australian online bookstore Boomerang Books. This is no way influences my review as I write honest reviews and give my honest thoughts.