Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Murder in the lab! The famous forensic scientist Dr. Ramachandran is stone-cold dead, and Ruby Rose’s father is the prime suspect. It’s one more reason for Ruby to hate the Gardens, the funky urban neighborhood to which she has been transplanted. Wise but shy, artistic but an outsider, Ruby must marshal everything and everyone she can to help solve the mystery and prove her father didn’t poison his boss. Everyone? The list isn’t too long: there’s T. Rex, Ruby’s big, goofy but goodhearted friend; maybe those other two weird kids from class; and that mysterious old lady in the apartment upstairs, who seems to know a lot about chemistry . . . which could come in very handy.
Rex and Ruby are pretty average elementary students--they're even placed with "The Regulars" at the DeWitt Lab School. They live in the projects and walk home from school together. Their slightly odd friendship fits both of their personalities and they're probably the last pair you would expect to solve a murder case! I liked their back-and-forth banter and how their slightly odd personalities seemed to complement each other. I don't think that anyone could NOT like Ruby. She has quirky little OCD habits like counting her steps (three plus one) and she's sharp. Both of them appeal to the nerdy kid in all of us.
The story itself, while not the most fast-paced murder mystery, is steeped in authentic situations where our young sleuths narrowly escape danger (although luckily for them, the danger is never TOO dangerous). The help that they receive from the elusive Mrs. Whitmore (aka The Window Lady) helps them more than they ever expected it to and she gives us all little science lessons along the way.
While I won't say this is my personal favorite read of the year, I think that it will hold a lot of appeal for the young audience at which it is aimed. If you've got a late elementary reader looking for a mystery with a little nerdy science thrown in (even if they don't ask for that second part--sometimes you just know), then Poison Most Vial is a great go-to book.