Very early one December morning, while she is busy preparing the baking for her new cafe’s morning rush, Jezebel Jingles is alarmed to see her neighbor, the mystery writer Miranda, rush in to the kitchen as the adventures of the The Penderghast Puzzle Protectors make way for the newer adventures of The Discombobulated Decipherers by Julie Seedorf. Miranda announces that the elf statue has fallen over, only to learn that there was no elf statue. Instead, a man acting in the live pageant, Ernest the Elf, has died and frozen stiff while wrapped in Christmas lights. Near the body is a glass cube with the name of Gaspar, the traditional name of one of the wise men, on it. As cubes with the names the remaining wise men, Melchior and Balthazar, appear, the residents of Brilliant, MN decide they have found a great new puzzle to solve. But since Jezebel has promised Hank Hardy, the chief of police, that she would disband the Penderghast Puzzle Protectors, she promptly forms the Discombobulated Decipherers to solve the mystery of the cubes and of the other strange happenings going on in Brilliant.
Any book by Seedorf will be a whimsical mystery, and The Discombobulated Decipherers is a lot of fun too. I did feel that it is a little less whimsical and wonderfully strange than The Penderghast Puzzle Protectors, my favorite of Seedorf’s eight books for adults, but that book set the bar high for delight. I enjoyed being reunited with Jezebel Jingles and her pals, who remain their quirky, unique selves. I did wish there was more of a puzzle like in the previous book. The book felt like less of a mystery than The Penderghast Puzzle Protectors. However, I still enjoyed the strange and imaginative world of Brilliant created by Seedorf.
The audio edition of the book is performed by Darla Middlebrook, a new narrator for Seedorf. It took me a little while to adjust to the new voices used by Middlebrook for the characters, but soon I found her to be effective and felt she did a good job of interpreting Seedorf’s vision of her clever and delightful world.
I highly enjoyed getting to visit Brilliant again in The Discombobulated Decipherers, with its fun and light-hearted depictions of life. This is a great book to enjoy when you need a great pick-me-up. The book ends on an especially strong note, with a special church Christmas pageant on Christmas Eve and church service on Christmas Day. I definitely recommend this book, but I suggest starting with The Penderghast Puzzle Protectors to meet the residents of Brilliant there first. I give this book four stars.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free for review purposes, but that had no influence on the content of my review.
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