The Perplexing Problem of the Porcelain Bandits
Wonderful Terrific Publishing (2011)
Reviewed by Leslie Granier for Reader Views (8/11)
Alex, Jenn, Thomas, and Shawna are housemates who have just received some shocking news. Their other housemate Brent was just killed after being struck by a car. Upon hearing this, they realize just how little they really knew about him, even though he had lived with them for four months. Not knowing who Brent’s next of kin is, Alex takes it upon himself to locate anyone who knew Brent. While investigating this matter, he uncovers a lot of strange and disturbing information which raises the question of whether Brent’s death was an accident or a murder. This leaves them wondering just who they shared a house with and if they could possibly be in danger themselves.
“The Perplexing Problem of the Porcelain Bandits” is an intriguing book. I loved reading about the four housemates. They seem like really cool people with whom to socialize. The story is set in San Francisco, and their personalities seem to symbolize the quirkiness of the city itself. There are many parts of this books that are quite funny. However, there is also a lot of focus on the not-so-pleasant issues the city faces, including a large homeless population and emaciated drug addicts always looking for their next fix. This book was obviously written by someone very familiar with San Francisco, which lends it some credibility. But at times I felt as if I was reading a visitor’s guide as seemingly every transit line and every bar in the city were mentioned.
This story starts off fast, quickly grabbing the reader’s attention. There is the mystery of who Brent was and in what kind of things he may have been involved. There is subterfuge, suspicious meetings in dark alleys, and strange messages Alex and his friends need to decipher. But after all of the buildup, the book ends abruptly. Sure most of the questions were answered, but it felt very anticlimactic to me.
“The Perplexing Problem of the Porcelain Bandits” is appropriate for an adult audience. I think males aged eighteen to thirty will be especially interested based on the content of baseball cards, toilets, and one sexy lady who may just hold the key to unraveling the truth.