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Poison Most Vial: A Mystery

Poison Most Vial: A Mystery

4.2 4
by Benedict Carey

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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


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.
Praise for Poison Most Vial
“Carey mixes toxic chemistry and logic problems in his second middle-grade mystery to good, if not great effect. Budding chemists and crime-scene investigators will especially enjoy this science whodunit.”
Kirkus Reviews

VOYA Top Shelf for Middle School Readers 2012 list

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - L. Perenic
The punny title led to an expectation of amusing word play that was not met, yet A Poison Most Vial was a quirky and solid mystery. Ruby Rose is determined to prove the innocence of her father, a janitor at DeWitt Polytechnic University, accused of poisoning the tea of Dr. Ramachandran. A cast of unusual characters brings their talents to the case, including the reclusive and retired forensic scientist, Mrs. Whitmore, who is Ruby's neighbor. While all the characters have unique qualities like special shoe laces and nicknames, very few of them are given any physical descriptions. The Young Detectives, as the group dubs themselves, often resort to subterfuge and it was impressive how little actual law-breaking they did. This fact made the plot more believable, since what reader would not have access to the library and computers, the same tools used by Ruby and Rex? This is a strong book for middle schoolers. Some junior high readers may find the protagonists, Ruby and Rex, too juvenile. The sleuth-to-suspects ratio allows author Benedict to keep the reading guessing until the very end. Reviewer: L. Perenic
Children's Literature - Janis Flint-Ferguson
Ruby Rose's father works at a local university where he cleans the laboratories. When he is accused of murder, Ruby and her best friend Rex set out to discover what really happened. They enlist the help of a woman who lives in their apartment complex and who they know only as the woman who peers out at them from her window. Ruby has heard that the "window lady" used to be a crime fighter and that is good enough for her. Mrs. Whitmore has indeed worked as a crime investigator and knows just how to direct the children in their quest. She also has friends in the investigative labs and does some of her own research into the murder of Dr. V.S. Ramachandran, who ran the research lab at the university. Young middle school readers will be introduced to the detective genre with this mystery and the adventures of two friends as they investigate the graduate students, the vials of toxins in the lab and finally the bit of science that helps them solve the case. There is an interesting multicultural component as Rex's voice reflects the Caribbean origins of his family. Following in the tradition of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, these are contemporary urban detectives working together to clear Mr. Rose's name. Reviewer: Janis Flint-Ferguson
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—When forensics expert Dr. Ramachandran is found poisoned in the lab at DeWitt Polytechnic University, eighth-grader Ruby Rose's dad is the prime suspect. He is a janitor in the lab, and empty toxin vials have been found in his locker. Ruby goes to the DeWitt Lab School, which many of the university professors' children ("the little gods") attend. Already somewhat of an outcast, Ruby (now dubbed "The Poison Rose") feels alone in her quest to prove that her father has been framed. With the help of her friend Rex, she hesitantly contacts reclusive, retired forensic toxicologist Clara Whitmore, the "Window Lady," who watches people from her apartment in Ruby's building. Carey has created a mystery with forensic evidence, multiple possible suspects, and two persistent sleuths. Can Ruby and Rex trust elderly Clara, or does she have her own agenda? Can they find the clues they need and get anyone to believe them before Ruby's dad goes to prison? This rather complicated story requires close attention to the clues or readers may get confused. However, die-hard sleuths looking for a challenging mystery might enjoy deciphering the evidence and cracking computer passwords alongside Ruby and Rex.—Michele Shaw, Quail Run Elementary School, San Ramon, CA
Kirkus Reviews
When Ruby's janitor father becomes the prime suspect in a murder, the eighth grader decides it's up to her to clear his name. Forensics expert Dr. Ramachandran was not the most congenial of professors, but everyone is still surprised when he turns up dead in his lab at DeWitt Polytechnic University. Ruby Rose, who attends the DeWitt Lab School on the campus, finds that in the court of public opinion her father has already been convicted--especially after empty toxin vials are found in his locker. Ruby enlists the aid of her large, Jamaican buddy, Rex, and reclusive, retired toxicologist Clara Whitmore, who lives in Ruby's building. What with hacking into computers, evading gangs and like spy-jinx, the mystery demands a lot of brain work. However, with a little coaching Ruby is up to the task. Carey mixes toxic chemistry and logic problems in his second middle-grade mystery to good, if not great effect (The Unknowns, 2009). The slow unfolding of the mystery borders on lethargic, but the realistic heroine, her odd (but not quirky) supporting cast and the distinctive nature of the mystery save this at-times-intoxicating brew. Budding chemists and crime-scene investigators will especially enjoy this science whodunit. (Mystery. 10-14)

Product Details

Amulet Books
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Meet the Author

Benedict Carey is a science reporter for the New York Times who covers such topics as neuroscience, genetics, and personality. He previously worked for the Los Angeles Times. He lives in the New York City area.

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Poison Most Vial: A Mystery 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Meh. Its a pretty good book, read it on my free time but was a predictable book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love how Ruby and her friends solve the mystery, but it was a little bit predictable.
ReadingCorner More than 1 year ago
Cute Middle Grade Mystery! Poison Most Vial is a classic young sleuths mystery that brings out the nerdy detective in the best of us. Ruby and Rex are determined to find who really killed Dr. Ramachandran and clear her father's name. But these two are lacking in experience so how in the world are they going to solve a mystery that's too confounding for even the police? And what are they going to do to disprove the clear evidence against her father? Rex and Ruby will find that things are not always as they seem and help can come from unexpected places. 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.
Buried-in-Books More than 1 year ago
Ruby Rose's father works in the great DeWitt forensics lab as a janitor. He's been accused of killing the great forensic scientist, Dr. Ramachandran in the lab. But Ruby knows he didn't do it, he had no reason to do it. She just has to prove it. And to prove it, she needs the help of her friend Rex. And Rex suggests the old lady in the window. She's rumored to have been famous for working with chemicals or something. But he's scared of her, he's heard from "The Minister of Information" or Jimmy Woods, that she has a glass eye and he's scared if she sneezes it'll come out. There's a very comical scene when they are visiting the woman, Mrs. Whitmore, and she sneezes. Rex, still fearing the glass eye turns the coffee table over and runs to the other side of the window while Ruby yells at him and Mrs. Whitmore just looks on in shock. Between trying to save her father and finding clues to his innocence, Ruby reminisces about her life in Arkansas and the best friend she left behind. She's missing the country and the wide open spaces. The city is crowded and unfamiliar and dangerous. And her best friend hasn't emailed her. She misses her old life, her old friend, the old way of doing things. But, Ruby doesn't dwell on it. If anything, I don't think she dwells on her situation enough. Her father could go to jail, he's drinking too much, they have no income since he lost his job and she's far from what she considers home. She feels that everywhere is strange and that she doesn't belong. And she's right when it comes to her investigating the crime. But she's smart, too, and in investigating the crime, she begins to learn more about herself, her surroundings and the people that are in her daily life. There are some very clever ways that Mrs. Whitmore helps Ruby and Rex and by extension her friends figure out what they need to free her father. And in return Mrs. Whitmore gains a sense of something more. And Ruby and Rex make two new friends that are living on the other side of the world from the projects where they live. It's a great mystery and fun reading about Ruby and Rex and Mrs. Whitmore. This is a very clean read and great for Middle Grade and up. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Heather I received a review a review copy of this from the publisher Amulet through Net Galley free of charge. This did not affect my review in any way. flag