The Candy Mafia
by Lavie Tidhar
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Pub Date 01 Sep 2020 | Archive Date 05 Nov 2020
Myrick Marketing & Media, LLC, Peachtree
In a city where candy is outlawed, Nelle Faulkner is a preteen private detective working from her mother's garden shed. When Eddie de Menthe, a notorious kid-gangster from a criminal candy ring, asks for help finding a lost teddy bear, Nelle Faulkner is on the case. But one sinister turn of events leads to another and Eddie himself goes missing! Nelle and her friends quickly find themselves navigating a shady underworld of sweets smugglers, back alley-deals, and storefront firebombs.
If Nelle has any hope of tracking down her missing client, she'll first have to unmask the true faces behind the smuggling operation. Is this the easy case Nelle thought it would be, or has she unknowingly put herself and everyone around her in inescapable danger?
Daniel Duncan's comical illustrations add a smooth layer of fun to Lavie Tidhar's tongue-in-cheek narrative. Hand this fun detective adventure to fans of Bugsy Malone and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Average rating from 22 members
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.
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.