Reviews for Pickle King

Booklist Reviews 2010 February #1
Although it does nothing but rain all summer in the dead-end town of Elbow, 11-year-old Bea and a ragtag group of classmates discover adventure after they stumble across the ghost of a local pickle manufacturer. Promitzer mixes together numerous disparate elements in this sometimes gruesome mystery, with allusions to Frankenstein, Bob Marley, Dan Brown, Scooby-Doo, and swamp people stirred together and topped off with a final, somewhat unfulfilling lesson on the first day back to school: "Normal meant kids had to stick to their own cliques and act in a way that wasn't really who they were." Fewer plot ingredients would have resulted in a tighter, more effective story, and Bea's first-person narration lacks consistent authenticity. Still, readers with a taste for quirky and circuitous adventures may want to take a bite. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall
The rainy town of Elbow holds a dark secret, as eleven-year-old Bea and her ragtag summer friends discover after finding a local celebrity dead and missing an eyeball. Through a convoluted, if entertaining, set of Scooby-Doo-esque plot twists, Bea's gang unmasks a Frankenstein-like villain who has been using the town's citizens for his own nefarious purposes. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 January #1
The plot of this rain-soaked dark comedy doesn't quite hold water, but Promitzer chucks in so many bizarre twists and revolting details that readers will likely forgive her. In getting to the bottom of several ugly secrets in their seemingly ordinary town, 11-year-old Bea and five other local children squabble and bond as they gather clues from a long-dead corpse, two ghosts, a stolen bag of human intestines, a serial-killer surgeon, a community of mentally disturbed outcasts, a mansion stocked with human parts and more. Punctuated by attacks from human punks and oversized rats, a race up a dark staircase against a tide of roaches and like rousing events, the young sleuths' investigation ultimately winds up in an encounter with a centuries-old tycoon kept alive by a steady supply of replacement organs harvested from the town's terrorized residents. Bea weathers it all with shaky but admirable fortitude--retaining enough aplomb in the end to keep her vanished father's eyeball in the freezer as a memento. Must reading for fans of Jack Gantos's Love Curse of the Rumbaughs (2006). (Detective fantasy. 11-13) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 February #4

Promitzer's debut doesn't quite live up to its lofty aspirations, but has plenty of hooks to grab readers. Eleven-year-old Bea, whose father is dead and whose mother is in an asylum, lives in the town of Elbow, where it rains "from May through September," and the few kids not lucky enough to escape during the summer are forced by the school to hang out together. When Bea's friend Sam shows her a house with a dead body in it, it leads to a chain of events revolving around ghosts, underground trash-dwellers, a bag of stolen intestines, and a conspiracy involving local businesses. Bea, Sam and his dog, and three other kids deal with their share of scares, while (naturally) forming friendships that could transcend their different social statuses. Promitzer never quite manages to meld the wackiness of the town, the horror of the ghost and killings, and the realistic effects the assorted parental deaths and broken homes have on the children. Still, there are enough adventure elements--especially for readers with an appetite for grisly details--to make for an entertaining read. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2010 June

Gr 5-8--The town of Elbow is known for two things--unceasing summer rain and Herman's Pickles. Bea, 11, is a camera whiz, so when her friend Sam discovers a dead body in an abandoned house, he wants her to document the scene. She photographs the twisted, waterlogged corpse with its missing eye, but once she develops the shots, her camera begins to act strangely. It moves by itself, spins around, and emits weird groans. The dead man has evidently hitched a ride--and now he wants the kids to investigate his demise. They identify the victim as the former head of the pickle company, now taken over by a big conglomerate. Furthermore, they learn that people tend to disappear in Elbow. Some end up in St. Agnes mental hospital, some turn up among the half-crazed outcasts in a filthy camp under the garbage dump--and some just never surface again. Gradually, the friends realize that there is an even more fiendish scheme behind the disappearances--and they may be the next victims. The rather convoluted plot often stretches credulity to the breaking point. The young investigators sneak out late at night, drive a car, access restricted hospital files, and spy on a meeting of the villains' secret Brotherhood. There is plenty of truly gross action as well. Even for a book of this type, the Frankenstein-inspired climax is a bit over-the-top. This is an additional choice where there is an especially strong demand for horror fiction.--Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL

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