Tag Archives: Detective stories

Friday Barnes #9: No Escape – R. A. Spratt

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Penguin Australia

  • February 2021
  • ISBN: 9781760895761
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP: $15.99

R. A. Spratt (aka Rachel) said to me ‘NO spoilers’ when I mentioned I was about to review this new Friday Barnes instalment and given she is both fit and feisty albeit small, I am not about to quibble! So here’s my rather ‘different’ review ;-).

A) Friday is now the same age as The Kid – growing up indeed!

B) The Kid will be going on her first ever school camp this year as she commences Year 10 at her new school and I will be running full checks on any accompanying teachers – just saying.

C) We live with an Italian, and know others, and I have come to the conclusion that they are ALL crazy!

D) When I reviewed #8 in the series on this blog two years ago I commented that I almost had a full-scale riot in my library when I said it would (as I had been told) be the last in the series. Like me, my kiddos just love Friday so much – so they are going to go wild when this new one appears when school goes back.

As with the others in this series there is loads of action and double doses of laugh-out-loud humour as Friday continues to awkwardly navigate her way through confronting social and emotional situations without ever losing her brilliance and genius-level powers of deduction. I loved it, your kids will love it too. I strongly suggest buying multiple copies so put it on your orders list now!!!!

Thanks so much R. A. for bringing Friday back – you know how much we all love her – horrible brown cardigan, porkpie hat, quirky but smart and, above all, the kid you’d most want to have as your friend.

Check out the blurb here at Penguin – then I can’t be blamed for any spoilers!!

Highly recommended for readers from around mid-primary upwards.

Coffee and laughs at the Shingle Inn – memorable outing!!

Death sets Sail – Robin Stevens

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Penguin Australia

  • September 2020
  • ISBN: 9780241419809
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP: $16.99

All good things must come to an end – even great things must – and I foresee there will be gnashing of teeth amongst my readers who are so dedicated to this series as they realise this is the final chapter. Robin Stevens has turned detective/murder mystery fiction into a best-selling and thoroughly exciting adventure for readers from around middle primary to secondary. Her two star detectives, the irrepressible Daisy Wells and the slightly awkward Hazel Wong, have become the darlings of their readership and rightly so.

The books are full of lively personalities, creative thinkers and assured self-confident young people and while I’m quite sure that none of my readers would actually like to be involved in a murder investigation, they would love to test out their sleuthing skills.

This final novel in the ten part series pays homage to Stevens’ inspiration, the great Agatha Christie, taking the Detective Society girls along with the Junior Pinkertons to Egypt for a cruise on the Nile. Each part takes its title from Christie novels which is a lovely nod to the Queen of Crime and the whole intentionally has the same feel and atmosphere of Death on the Nile.

Hazel and Daisy are off to Egypt as the guests of their friend Amina El Maghrabi and Hazel’s long-suffering father decides to join them with her little sisters, Rose and May. Of course, Hazel manages to have the Junior Pinkertons, Alexander and George, coincidentally in the right place at the right time as well. The jolly party does not, however, reckon on the inclusion of a particularly nasty group called Breath of Life, pretentious and dangerous foolish adults who believe they are the reincarnations of Egyptian pharoahs. When the head of this outwardly genteel, but inwardly scurrilous group, the odious Theodora, is found brutally murdered it’s time for the Detective Society to leap into action. Could this be the work of an innocent and put-upon sleepwalking daughter or was it the act of a calculating and cold mind?

With as many twists and turns as previous adventures, readers will be wildly trying to match the wits of Daisy and Hazel, along with their able assistants, as first one then another passenger comes under suspicion.

It would be unfair for me to spoil the most shocking revelation so I won’t but suffice to say, there will be howls of outrage and despair, which fortunately will be mollified.

The book concludes with some interesting factual information about Ancient Egypt and – praise the reading gods! – the teaser of a new forthcoming series. Never fear readers – you have not heard the last of Daisy and Hazel!!

Amongst my keen beans there is no need for recommendation for this highly entertaining series but if you have not yet picked up on it for your mob, do yourself and them a favour and put it on your orders list.

Highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards.

Fabio the World’s Greatest Detective: Peril at Lizard Lake – Laura James. Illustrated by Emily Fox

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9781408889374

Bloomsbury Australia

March 2020

ISBN: 9781408889374
Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

RRP: $12.99

 

I do love Fabio – the Hercule Poirot of the flamingo species – and though the kids who read it may not really get that connection these books are still really good fun.  Together with his rather dopey offsider the rather gullible Gerald (read Hastings) he is launched into a new mystery when a terrible water shortage hits not only Laloozee but the near countryside as well.

Of course the adventure doesn’t start out as a mystery rather it starts with Gerald’s purchase of a bi-plane and his immediate decision to take Fabio on a joyride. Naturally, being Gerald he doesn’t think to check the fuel tank before launching the pair skyward and the inevitable happens when they need to make a forced landing just near a small but remote village. With the new plane slightly pranged it’s a lucky chance to come across a capable mechanic lion called Molly but while the plane is being repaired, events escalate as the pair realises that there is something very wrong indeed about this growing and worrying shortage of water.

Suspicions turn to one character after another with the prerequisite red herrings one expects in a Christie-ish mystery but not for nothing is Fabio ranked the world’s greatest detective – he is well able to ferret out the real villains and save the day.

I repeat – jolly good fun! And perfect for those newly independent readers looking for a narrative with a bit more complexity. I just love the eye-popping flouro colours used in these as well – this one hot pink and citrus yellow!

Highly recommended for your younger readers from around Year 2 upwards.

The Secret Key (Agatha Oddly: #1) – Lena Jones

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agathaoddly

Harper Collins

ISBN: 9780008211837

ISBN 10: 0008211833

Imprint: HarperCollins – GB

June 2018

List Price: 14.99 AUD

Here’s a brilliant new girl detective series for all your lovers of this ever popular genre and this one is for slightly older girls. How can anyone resist someone named after the Queen of detective fiction herself? Agatha Oddlow is thirteen years old and her mother raised her on a steady diet of detective novels, logic and puzzles before she died. Agatha lives with her dad, who is head warden at Hyde Park gardens, in a quaint cottage in the grounds of the garden. They are managing on their own pretty well though Agatha is less than impressed with posh school St Regis, to which she won a scholarship.  She is far more interested in pursuing mysteries, real or imagined, often to the detriment of her school behaviour.  Along with her best friend Liam Lau,  Oddlow Investigations maintains that ‘no case is too odd’ for their sleuthing partnership and Agatha’s many imaginary conversations with her hero, Hercule Poirot, convince her that she is exactly the right type to be a detective.

So clearly when she witnesses a hit-and-run in Hyde Park which is swiftly followed by a terrible disaster with London’s water supply, Agatha is thrilled that her biggest chance yet has appeared. The thick red sludge which has usurped London’s fresh water supply appears to be a problem with no solution. Certainly it has the scientists baffled. But Agatha is determined to get to the bottom of the issue as she begins to connect the dots of the hit-and-run victim, a boastful business magnate who just happens to be launching a water purification venture, a strange key left behind by her mum and some very mysterious tunnels underneath London, where she just happens to discover her mother’s bicycle – the one which her mum was supposedly riding when she was struck by a car and killed.

This is loads of fun and has the many twists and turns that young readers will relish. I look forward to the subsequent episodes which are apparently on their way to us.

Thoroughly recommended for would-be detectives from around ten years upwards.

Shadow of the Centaurs- Saviour Pirotta

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Bloomsbury

January 2019

 

ISBN: 9781472940254
Imprint: Bloomsbury Education

RRP: $14.99

centaurs

This is the fourth in this series but my first foray into the ancient world of scribe Nico and his slave friend Thrax who have become somewhat adept in solving most peculiar mysteries but it certainly won’t be the last. I loved the unravelling of the problem/s, the humour throughout, the characters and the revelations of everyday life in Ancient Greece.

Nico and Thrax along with all the other citizens of Athens are eagerly anticipating the imminent festival of Anthesteria (similar to All  Hallows’ Eve) with its accompanying spookiness and possibility of spirits roaming – oh, and lavish decadent feasting.

But before the boys can even begin to relax and enjoy the festivities they are confronted with the spectre of the Society of the Centaurs, a group dedicated to the destruction of Athens and all it represents.

Readers will find this very engaging with loads of humour and intrigue and despite themselves will learn much about life in ancient times.

A hugely enjoyable read well worth promoting to your readers aged from around eight years upwards.

 

Fabio the World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective: The Case of the Missing Hippo – Laura James

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fabio

Bloomsbury

March 2018
ISBN: 9781408889312
Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

RRP  : AU$12.99

Like many others I am addicted to great detective fiction be it books or TV shows and also like many others my favourite sleuth is the one and only Hercule Poirot (as in David Suchet not – you know who KB bleuggh). So you might well imagine how delighted I was to read this new book from the creator of Captain Pug and discover a flamingo version of HP!

Fabio politely tipped his hat. ‘Fabio, the world’s greatest flamingo detective at your service, Madam.’

He’s no hulking giant but a mere pink slip of a thing and very very clever. Really he just wants to sip his pink lemonade and listen to the jazz music at his favourite venue, the Hotal Royale. His constant companion Gerald the giraffe, a gentle soul but also a complete duffer accompanies him.

However, there is no peaceful interlude for Fabio as the nightclub launches its talent show, he is roped in to being one of the judges and the likely winner of the show, a brilliant jazz-singing hippo goes missing.

There are plenty of suspects including Fabio’s fellow judges – a slippery python car salesman and the bizarre knitting secretary bird, Enid, owner of the local ballet school among them.  The local Lake Laloozee Chief Inspector Duff is no match for Fabios’s superior intellect –‘it’s a matter of logic’ – and this crime unravels faster than Enid’s knitting in the calm flamingo’s capable hands – errr, wings.

This is really good fun and the fluoro pink and green combination used throughout the design and illustrations is fantastic.

Highly recommended for readers from around 7 years upwards who enjoy a spot of sleuthing and a lot of laughs.

Lexi & Lottie #1: Trusty Twin Detectives – Melanie Alexander

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9780143784135

Penguin Random House

9780143784135

May 29, 2017

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP $12.99

 

If you’re looking for something new for your early independent readers this might be just the thing. Ignorant as I am of TV shows in the main, apparently this is based on a kids’ show of the same name.  The author writes for television and also has teaching experience so clearly knows her audience.

Kid detectives and animals (vets/zoos) are very popular trends at present and this follows that appeal with a colourfully illustrated and easy to read narrative.

The twins live at an animal park which caters for creatures who are unable to survive in the wild. The arrival of two white tiger cubs is a great cause for celebration and publicity but when one of the cubs is stolen, it’s a case for the twins to crack. Enlisting the help of their Grandpa George, best friend Fred and clever pet mouse Mozart, the girls are sleuthing all over town to locate poor missing Pounce.

There are some rather cute inserts into the text of the girls’ notes on the case as well as interspersed animal facts.

All in all a useful addition to your Easy Reading collection.

 

Friday Barnes 7: Bitter Enemies – Rachel Spratt

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9780143784197

Penguin Random House

9780143784197

July 31, 2017

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP $15.99

 

Beginning of term at Highcrest Academy has never been so dreary and desolate. Melanie and Ian are both depressed and missing their quirky best friend Friday, who has been whisked off to Switzerland to be with her family and attend Europe’s most elite school.  Adding to their misery, the start of term assembly sees the announcement of the school’s anniversary celebrations and the return of four previous headmasters. Good grief! Surely one headmaster is enough for any mortal?

However, they have not reckoned on the surprise return of the school’s most dedicated nerdy sleuth who appears dramatically at the doors of the assembly hall ready to deal with anything that might just foul up the anniversary celebrations. And just as well, the students have been warned to be on their best behaviour but apparently no one told the former headmasters the same thing. You have no idea how much havoc can be created by embittered former educators – wait, perhaps you do!

As usual, Friday is on hand to solve the mysteries, explain the inexplicable and generally get everyone out of trouble although not without finding herself in a pickle at the same time.

Old and new characters make their appearances and really you have to love Mrs Cannon, the world’s laziest English teacher – I wonder what might happen if I tried that approach?

These are such fun to read and Friday’s idiosyncrasies are so goofy as to be endearing. The solid friendships are a great feature of this series, proving you don’t need to be pattern made to fit in.

There is also the pathos as we find out more about Friday’s ghastly family and oh oh, the shocker at the end – what will happen to Friday when…. Oops, never mind, you’ll find out.

These are always high in demand in my library and I know the readers are waiting on this new one impatiently.

Highly recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards.

 

Friday Barnes #5 The Plot Thickens – R. A. Spratt

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fridaybarnes

9780857989932

August 1, 2016

Random House Australia Children’s

 

RRP $15.99

I have some readers who have been driving us mad in the library waiting and waiting on a new Friday Barnes fix – and here it is!

Friday’s at her best solving mysteries, uncovering truth, being a complete dork and antagonising people in this latest episode. Her on/off friendship with Ian Wainscott begins unravelling faster than Friday’s daggy cardigans when she catches his formerly incarcerated father out in a huge lie about wanting Ian to live with him. Ian is furious that Friday has humiliated him in front of everyone.

That sets the tone for the whole term with things going awry all round. Two new teachers, a rather bogus celebrity artist taking over the Art class and an unlikeable bumptious PE teacher seem set to make Friday’s life more difficult.

Ian’s retaliation for the public shaming is a series of pranks played against Friday which begin to make her school life quite intolerable to the point where she starts to contemplate leaving Highcrest Academy.

However, in the meantime there are problems to solve with mysterious graffiti appearing all over the school, perimeter fences being cut in the dead of night and a rogue vending machine catching hold of arms.

It seems that Friday is really up against it this term but always plucky and unable to curb her innate insatiable drive to find the answers to any given unexplained incident, she ploughs ahead and of course, a satisfactory resolution (and armistice with Ian) is the outcome.  This is one girl protagonist who really brings joy proving that you don’t have to be a popular fashionista to be a winner – smart, caring and unpretentious, Friday is a Mighty Girl in my opinion.

As always, highly recommended for readers from around 8 and up – I foresee multiple reservations for this one in our library!

A Lottie Lipton Adventure: The Scroll of Alexandria – Dan Metcalf

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lottie.jpg

Allen & Unwin Australia

Bloomsbury Publishing

February 2016-04-02

ISBN 9781472911872

RRP $12.99

If you are looking for a new series to engage newly independent readers, you need look no further!

Imagine living in a museum full of rare and wonderful objects. Lottie Lipton, nine years old, lives in the British Museum with her Great Uncle Bert and absolutely adores the Great Library with its vast collection of rare and valuable books.

Rapacious Sir Trevelyan Taylor, the new Head Curator of the museum, has other views and sees the disposal of the books as a prime money raiser, claiming that books have no place in a library and no regard for the Royal Appointment that placed them there by King George – which came with unbreakable instructions that the collection must not be split.

But if Lottie and Great Uncle Bert can find the last remaining scroll of the ancient library of Alexandria, which would definitely constitute a museum artefact then the nasty Sir Trev’s plot will be well and truly foiled.

Young readers will love helping Lottie with her puzzle and decoding secret messages as this determined girl follows the clues to find the missing scroll.  Her fellow investigators, Great Uncle Bert and Reg the caretaker are fun characters adding humour to the story. A glossary of more difficult words is included at the end of the book along with a couple of additional brainteasers to solve.

Look for at least three more titles forthcoming in this terrific interactive series. Highly recommended for readers from around 7 years up.