Ethan and Ella Briar return in their sixth globe-trotting adventure, this time in the exotic land of India. In The Mystery of the Suspicious Spices, author Harper Paris takes her mystery-seeking siblings to the markets in Mumbai, where they stumble upon their latest mystery at the spice shop of their grandfather's friend, Deepak Singh.
This story has a bit more "mystery" to it than the previous two books, which makes for a nice change (since this is supposed to be a mystery series for young readers). It seems that something strange is happening to Deepak's spices - - until just recently, his spices were known throughout the area as being the best there was. Lately, though, customers are returning with complaints that the spices they purchased are not just bad; they are ruining recipes and taste absolutely awful! On a fateful visit to the store, Ethan and Ella witness first hand the unhappy customers, who scare off future customers - - all of whom decide to take their spice-shopping to the new shop, Spice Palace, which just so happens to be owned by Deepak's brother (who was mighty upset when their father left Deepak the family business on his death).
Obviously, any reader over the age of 8 is going to see exactly where this is going (particularly readers of the recent Nancy Drew series, which seems to focus solely on sabotage as the premise for every mystery). I do have to give Paris credit, though - she manages to provide a rather creative mystery, and while older readers will find it somewhat simple, I think it hits the age mark of its intended readers rather nicely. Using color-dyed salt to change-up the spices in order to sabotage Deepak's business was pretty unique, I think, but not something so complicated that children Ethan and Ella's age would never be able to figure out.
Marcos Calo continues to provide his amazing illustrations on if not every page, then at least every other page (although I do admit that I noticed for the first time in this book - perhaps it was like this in previous books and I just didn't pay it any attention - but Ethan and Ella's heads are quite large, and their necks rather lengthy - no one else is drawn this way, so unsure why these two have these characteristics, unless it's simply to make them stand out).
RATING: 7 salty spices out of 10 for giving the young readers a taste of what fun mystery stories can be to read!