Nothing good ever happens to Tabitha Crum. Her parents do not love her, and she has no friends, except for her pet mouse Pemberly. The bright spot in her life is the time she spends reading Inspector Percival Pensive stories.
When Tabitha receives an elegant and mysterious envelope at school, she does not dare to imagine what its contents may be. Both she and her disagreeable parents are shocked when they find an invitation to spend the weekend at the estate of the Countess of Windermere. Hoping to gain something themselves, Mr. and Mrs. Crum accompany Tabitha and find that five other children have also received the same invitation.
Apparently the Countess is searching for a long lost grandchild. Unbeknownst to the six youngsters, they were all adopted at about the same time from the same orphanage. The Countess, an eccentric woman with a dubious past, wants to spend the weekend with them to discern which one is her relation. Torn between feelings of relief that the nasty couple who had been raising her were not her real parents and suspicions about the Countess’ motives, Tabitha uses her sleuthing skills to uncover the truth.
While the other characters in Jessica Lawson’s story are rather stereotypical, Tabitha is a complex protagonist who shows spunk and compassion. Self-doubt gradually turns to confidence as she learns to make friends with the other children and demonstrates intelligence and resourcefulness. In spite of a fairly predictable outcome, mystery lovers will enjoy Tabitha’s adventures and some unexpected twists in the book’s neatly packaged conclusion.
A former teacher, Jennifer Minicus is currently a full-time wife and mother.