This is a very layered book and an enjoyable read. The two don’t always go hand in hand. It is difficult to find a book that not only says something of importance, but also takes the reader on a ride. A Pocket Full of Murder does both very well.
It is the story of twelve-year old Isaveth and her three sisters, who face a terrible plight: their father is accused of murder and dragged away to prison before their very eyes. It is up to clever Isaveth to solve the mystery and help acquit her father – and with the help of one very quirky street-boy, Quiz. Along the way Isaveth discovers she has a talent for using common magic, baking up spells with her late mother’s old recipes.
The mystery is fun and fast-paced, but there are also some deeper issues at play that make the story more important for young readers. Isaveth and her family faces religious persecution because she is Moshite – a minority religion in her city. This means that her family is poorer than the average commoner.
I loved this book for its fantasy and mystery elements, as well as its plea for social justice. I applaud R. J. Anderson for her boldness in mixing genres here, and writing an enjoyable book with a good message.