Mabel was born on Halloween and is a staring contest champion. Her parents, Fred and Jane, are “Cleaners”, top secret agents.
They would go into really bad situations around the world to clean up messes made by other spies.
When they’re at home, Fred maintains old telephone lines and repairs cell phone towers, while Jane is the curator of the family’s private museum, Le Petit Musée of Antique Silver Spoons.
Living in a town of only 267 people, you’d think it would be especially difficult to keep her parents’ secret from getting out but Mabel has her 36 Rules for a Successful Life as an Undercover Secret Agent to guide her.
In the lead up to her eleventh birthday, Mabel gets a lot of opportunities to practice her undercover agent skills. Her parents are out of town on a secret mission and her Aunt Gertie, who needs to make a batch of her famous cinnamon buns for me, has been arrested.
Frankenstella (her aunt and uncle) and her least favourite cousin, Victoria, show up and start eating all of Mabel’s food and bossing her around. Her aunt and uncle seem to have an unusual interest in spoons and a red suitcase that may or may not exist.
“I will not sugarcoat the truth. This situation is a big deal.”
Mabel is absolutely adorable but I doubt she’d like me describing her that way. She doesn’t know who she can trust but she’s resourceful and doesn’t give up.
Mabel’s best friend, Stanley, was my favourite character. He a photographer who doesn’t give spoiler alerts, so make sure you’re careful around him if he finishes your current read first. I wish he had more page time.
I have an unanswered question, the same one Mabel has at the end of the book.
Given there are 36 Rules for a Successful Life as an Undercover Secret Agent, it would have been pretty perfect if this book had 36 chapters. It has 35, although there’s also a preamble to the rules before the first chapter, so I’m counting it. I liked all of the rules but my favourite was 14.
Most people believe what they want to believe, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Don’t be most people.
Favourite no context quote:
“If I had any more luck, a big black hole would pop up in the living room, suck me in, and crush me until my eyeballs exploded and my bones turned to gelatinous goo.”
Thank you so much to NetGalley and Capstone Young Readers, an imprint of Capstone, for the opportunity to read this book.
Once Upon a Blurb
When Mabel’s parents leave town without warning, she isn’t worried. They’re spies, after all. But when her beloved Aunt Gertie is arrested for leading a smuggling ring, then her obnoxious Uncle Frank and Aunt Stella show up, demanding to be let into the family’s private museum, things begin to look fishy. Especially since Mabel hasn’t heard from her parents in days. Tackling a mystery like this one is what she has been training for her whole, short life. Using her self-authored spy handbook, will Mabel be able to find her parents and unmask the real criminal before it’s too late?