Cover Image: The Candy Mafia

The Candy Mafia

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Member Reviews

What a fun detective book for those MG readers! Mafia and candy and smuggling and missing teddies? It read like an old fashioned detective story, complete with a trench coat! The mystery is totally aimed for kids! It also has a great message hidden within the mystery! Would be great for those kids who love some mystery in their reads! Recommend for all (there's also some sneaky funny bits).

(Will blog closer to pub date)
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This is a unique middle-grade mystery set in a universe in which candy is illegal and rival candy gangs are competing for territory in the underground distribution business. I enjoyed following the story through Nelle Faulkner, a twelve-year-old "gumshoe" detective, and the noir-esque setting and dialogue made this a fun read. The side characters are also fleshed out well, and there's some diversity evident in the illustrations.

What gives me pause is the fact that there's a lot more violence in this book than I was expecting (including a scene of an adult with a gun). The ending is also unsatisfying, playing on the recurring theme of "life isn't always fair."
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This book is the absolute most fun MG! I read it so quickly, not just because it's MG length but because it was so entertaining! I did not want to stop reading until the case was solved! I highly recommend this one. I think it would be a great one for kids to read themselves, or to read together with an adult! Everyone can enjoy this book.
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I'm about to say something kinda crazy.....

This middle grade gem may in fact, be more enjoyable to adults than young readers.

I said it and I meant it.

It's like when you go back and watch all of your favorite animated movies from childhood, and you realize you are suddenly old enough to catch all of the cheeky jokes you never knew existed. This entire book was a play on the alcohol prohibition of the 1920's and it was ripe with double entendre for the savvy reader's enjoyment.

I laughed at so many lines that weren't even actual jokes. It was like reading a book made up entirely of inside jokes. And really, who doesn't enjoy being on the 'in' side of an inside joke....

So yes, the story was all about kids saving the day Codename: Kids Next Door style and what young reader wouldn't have a blast with that? But this book also "ages" very well.

Thank you Netgalley and Peachtree Publishing for the opportunity to read this book before its US release.
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Thanks to Netgalley for the advanced copy of "The Candy Mafia." This was an entertaining detective/mystery genre for kids entering into the realm of chapter books! Fast-paced storyline and plenty of illustrations to keep things interesting for the more reluctant reader. Would be a great series!
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A BIG Thank You to Netgalley and Peachtree Publishing for providing me with an advanced reader’s copy of “The Candy Mafia” for my review.

I always love reading something completing new in the middle grade genre. Being a fan of old film noir movies, I simply loved reading this book. The author plotted and paced the story very well. What starts off as the mystery of a missing bear soon leads to a bigger conspiracy that Nelle wouldn’t have imagined. I read quite a few mysteries and even I couldn’t figure out where the story was heading. I loved the reveal in the end as to what happened to Mr. Farnsworth and how everything fit together.

Moreover, Nelle is great as the private detective. She is willing to solve the case and will stop at nothing in the process. I also liked the supporting characters, Waffles, Sweetcakes, and even Bobbie. The villains were also well written, where they are menacing and scary, but also a bit ridiculous at times.

The only downside to the story was the way it ends. I am not going to give away the ending, but I wished things had turned out better. Honestly, I expected a happier ending. However, I was glad that the ending felt realistic. Also, some of the themes, particularly with the violence, felt too mature to be mentioned for younger readers.

However, apart from that I loved everything about this story. The author wrote the story very well and you actually feel like you are watching an old film noir movie. Moreover, the illustration by Daniel Duncan are amazing and brings the book to life in a new way. Overall, I personally enjoyed reading “The Candy Mafia” and hope it turns out to be the beginning of a series.
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Sternwood Drive 

It seems to me that really good middle grade gumshoe thrillers have to work on at least three levels. First, at a minimum and for starters, you need good characters and a well plotted and told story. Second, you need private eye bits that a younger reader will recognize - stoolies, a fedora, snappy patter, goons, crime bosses, double-crosses, trench coat, and so on. Third, but not strictly necessary, I appreciate some sly shout outs to the great tradition of Spade/Marlowe/noir writing that provides the foundation for the project. I knew we were in business here when the crime boss Waffles had his hideout up on Sternwood Drive, the Sternwood family being the rotten heart of Raymond Chandler's classic "The Big Sleep".

While I was on board, I'm not sure where a middle grade reader would come out. A female private detective is a nice touch. Candy smuggling in a Prohibition Era frame is a fun angle. Lots of criminals, innocent bystanders, con men, goons, crooked cops, and grifters keep things lively. The pace is fast and there are lots of twists and turns that are easy enough to follow. Our heroine keeps it all together and navigates the criminal world with the right kind of Spade/Marlowe style. Banter isn't very edgy, but there are some clever bits and it's all at a convincingly dry and deadpan level. 

I love this stuff, but can never predict whether it will click with any particular reader. There are lots of middle grade p.i. books out there, and many are really very good, but for any one book and any one reader, who knows. That said, this struck me as a fine book for testing the waters, and perfectly fine example of the genre. 

And, even if you set aside the whole kid-hardboiled noir thing, this is still a fine mystery adventure with an interesting array of characters, an engaging plot, and a good mix of detecting and action. That alone makes it worth a close look.

(Please note that I received a free advance will-self-destruct-in-x-days Adobe Digital copy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)
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This was a middle-grade book that amused the heck out of me just from the description. Written highly tongue-in-cheek by Tidhar, and with spot-illustrations by Duncan, this tale of a city in the grip of prohibition - of candy - had me smirking so much that it was painful to the face. Things have gone sour, with no chocolate, no licorice, no chewy toffee to be had! The new mayor banned it all three years ago and so of course, an elaborate smuggling operation has sprung up, with all the attendant bribery and corruption.

Not that any of this affects the main character, the honest and upstanding Nelle Faulker, a 12-year-old private detective who is out of work now school is out for the summer and no cases have been coming her way lately. She's a smartie and is sitting in her office (a shed in her back yard) when who should stop by, but Eddie de Menthe, one of the biggest candy-smugglers in town. Eddie has a serious problem - he's lost his teddy-bear.

Nelle takes the case, and even though she smells a rat - or is it a chocolate bunny? - in her sweet innocence, she has no idea what she's getting herself into. Has Nelle been taken for an all-day sucker? No! Trust me when I say she's no marshmallow. She has encounters with the other two big candy smugglers in town: The Sweetie Pies, and Waffles Mackenzie. She also learns of the Big Five Families, and becomes concerned when Eddie disappears like sherbet dip from a punctured bag!

What's going on here? What's the secret of the shut-down chocolate factory and where did the owner Mr Farnsworth vanish to? Why was Nelle's office turned over? What were they looking for? Who is behind all this? Can the cops even be trusted? Will Mayor Thornton get re-elected and continue the candy ban? Just in passing, Thornton's is a brand of particularly delicious toffee in Britain. And most important of all: just what does it mean to be a gum shoe in a candy-apple world?!

All of this and more is answered as this sly romp takes us through the gangster world where the author treats the story just seriously enough to make it even more amusing, and where Nelle proves herself to be one tough cookie. She's as sticky as salt-water taffy when it comes to a case, and she's definitely one of my strong female heroes. I can't say it was a sweet read without getting into trouble with Mayor Thornton, but I will say this book gives a reader lots to chew on, and I commend it highly.
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