cover image The Candy Mafia

The Candy Mafia

Lavie Tidhar, illus. by Daniel Duncan. Peachtree, $16.99 (300p) ISBN 978-1-68263-197-3

Brought in by the new mayor and relentlessly enforced for the last three years, candy prohibition has spawned a black market in 12-year-old detective Nelle Faulkner’s town. Nelle misses candy, but the true loss haunting her is her father’s death. After candy bootlegger Eddie de Menthe approaches the private eye to find a stolen teddy bear, Nelle is thrust into the war brewing between three kid-led gangs controlling the illegal candy trade. As Nelle starts asking questions, a rival gang stink-bombs an illicit candy shop, mysterious adults rifle through the girl’s office, and the bear arrives at Nelle’s home—events that unfurl into a larger mystery. Nelle is convinced the answers lie in the shuttered chocolate factory, whose owner has disappeared. Noir tropes loom large in Tidhar’s fast-paced story, with a gutsy gumshoe, a hardboiled narrative voice (“I needed a job even worse than I needed a caramel fudge”), and enough action to keep young readers on their toes. Ages 8–12. [em](Sept.) [/em]