Title: A Mystery at Lili Villa
Author: Arathi Menon
Release Date: July 31, 2021
Genre: Middle Grade, Mystery
Publisher: Yali Books
Purchase Link: Here
Cousins Arj, Tam, and Mira are spending their summer vacation in Elathoor, a little village in Kerala when their family home, Lili Villa, is broken into and some jewelry is stolen. The Terrific Three set out to solve the mystery but soon discover that there is no shortage of suspects. Is it Pinching Kodavis or Dumdumchecchi, the milking lady? Is it the mean fisherwoman who starves the cat or the retired nurse who owns a luxury car? Or is it Mani with his upside-down Russian secret? Who could the thief possibly be?
In a throwback to unscheduled summer vacations, this cozy mystery will charm young readers with plenty of sibling sparring, some intrepid sleuthing, and an endless parade of mouth-watering snacks.
I got the arc of this little middle grade mystery novel on a whim, because I hardly pick up MG these days. But I do remember seeing it a few times on Yali Books’s Twitter account and thought why not.
And this turned out to be so fun and entertaining. I think this book is a perfect crossover for Children’s and Middle Grade readers, providing the innocence for younger readers as well as the adventure elements for budding teenagers. And as an avid reader of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series in my childhood, I couldn’t resist reading this one. Though it felt younger, the vibes were very similar to FF and I enjoyed it so much, as well as kept wishing I had these kind of desi books when I was that age. The writing is simple and fast paced, and the author immerses us so deeply in the story that we completely believe in the talents of the little child detectives. Just in such a short book, I could feel the atmosphere of Elathoor, get to know the whole cast of quirky characters better, and also fall in love with the three tenacious cousins who were so brave and determined to find the truth, even if a tad bit reckless.
To conclude, this is a cute and interesting little mystery novel that I think kids will really enjoy, and I would definitely recommend to any desi parents who have kids in this age range. It’s a cool change instead of always going for the Enid Blyton or Nancy Drew classics. There is a hint at the end that this might turn out to be a series with the three cousins turned sleuths, and I couldn’t be more excited for the next installment.
PS: Thank you to Lonely Pages Book Tours for providing me with the advance copy and this blog tour opportunity. All opinions expressed here are unbiased and solely mine.
About the Author
Arathi Menon is an author and a columnist, currently based in London. She published her first book Leaving Home With Half a Fridge in 2015. She has received has a highly commendable mention at the 2018 FAB awards and was a part of a group exhibit at the Tate Modern, London in 2019 and 2020. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. She loves a good story, all animals, and a pink tuck.