10 Little Insects

Davide Cali, Author, Vincent Pianina, Author
Davide Cali, illus. by Vincent Pianina. Wilkins Farago (IPG/Trafalgar Square, dist.), $19.99 (80p) ISBN 978-0-9871099-1-0
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Younger readers may not be familiar with Christie’s Ten Little Indians, but they’ll be hooked by the plot gambit of trapping a group of suspects in a mansion and knocking them off one by one—if they can stand all the corpses, that is. French writer Cali (The Great House Hunt) minimizes the trauma by casting insects as the victims, which also affords him opportunities for poo humor (about a fly: “He must have run into some dung and decided to stop for a snack!”) and macabre jokes. “I’ve never done anything bad apart from tearing off my husband’s head before eating him,” says Mrs. Mantis, one of the servants. Too bad—she’s the next to go. Pianina’s fine lines, candy-colored palette, and stage-set mansion backgrounds offer Krazy Kat–style whimsy, while the charming detective Gafard anchors the story, delivering traditional whodunit deductions: “And who’s to say that the murderer is one of us?” Though the ending doesn’t entirely satisfy—the whole fiasco is the fault of bureaucratic error—it still delivers engaging, Continental-style entertainment, with echoes of Hergé along with Christie. Ages 9–12. (June)
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