Liba, the daughter of the owner of a small hotel in Oudtshoorn, South Africa, solves the mystery of the theft of valuable ostrich feathers. The story is set at a time when phones are first in common use, horses and cars are both on the road, and fingerprinting has just come into use as a tool for solving crime. The hired detective is bungling, self-important, annoying and clueless.
Liba’s family is Jewish and observant and their values are evident throughout the story. As Liba is on the trail of the thief, she discovers that her father has a method for separating the paid guests from the unpaid ones, teaching her that in Judaism it is important not to embarrass anyone who might not be able to pay. This plus other examples of mitzvot are important messages delivered to the reader.
The book is the third in a series. It is light, funny, and just a touch scary and is enriched by a large and lively cast of characters including Liba’s three younger brothers, their pet chameleon and several quirky hotel guests.
Recommended for 8 – 11.