Tabitha Crum has awful parents – so awful that they only adopted her because they hoped she’d grow up beautiful, marry a rich man, and make them a bundle. For years, they’ve given her an unattractive haircut so that she won’t get any attention too soon. She and five other children are invited to spend a weekend with the Countess of Windermere, an eccentric philanthropist who’s looking for her long-lost grandchild. Could Tabitha be the heir? Her parents don’t think so, quickly abandoning her and taking off for Spain.
Tabitha has a deep love of Inspector Pensive mysteries, and sees herself and her pet mouse as apprentice inspectors. The Countess of Windermere’s country house offers many small puzzles and a few big ones, so Tabitha decides to use her skills to winkle out the truth for as long as she can. Is the Countess mad? Are the servants evil? What’s behind the bookshelf? Should the children escape before the knives come out again?
Hidden passageways and stolen identities are enough to keep me engaged for a while, and Tabitha is a clever and interesting character who’s learning her own power after years of being nothing more than a disappointment. Nooks and Crannies (Jessica Lawson) is a fun and fast read, and I’m sure the title has some deeper meaning I’m missing. It’s the only thing I’d change about the book.