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Find our latest selection of crime and mystery books, from serious whodunnits to failed comic detectives.
October 2021 Book of the Month | In this riveting story of murder, secrets, and tragedy, Jennifer Mathieu reimagines S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders from a female perspective. Bad Girls Never Say Die has all the drama and heartache of that teen classic, but with a feminist take just right for our times.
The stage is set for a thrilling mystery! Gracie Fairshaw is delighted to get a sneak preview of the Children's Ballet's Christmas spectacular. But when the curtain rises, things go horribly wrong for the young dancers. Accidents, pranks and a poison pen letter make Gracie wonder if someone is trying to spoil the show. Can Gracie and her friends stop the saboteur before their final act?
September 2021 Debut of the Month | There are lots of orphans in children’s books, but few have as sad or dangerous a story to tell as Bastien Bonlivre. After his writer parents die tragically in a hotel fire, Bastien must live in the Orphanage for Gentils Garçons in Paris. Under the rule of the tyrannical Xavier Odieux, the orphanage is a miserable place, though Bastien’s secret night-time storytelling sessions always give the boys a boost. Life is particularly bad for Bastien thanks to Xavier’s apparent obsession with the notebook his parents left him; and could this somehow be linked to the strange disappearances of other successful authors? The adventure that develops is as exciting as those invented by Bastien’s parents’ favourite, Alexandre Dumas, culminating in a terrifying chase through the Paris catacombs. Set during the 1920s, scattered with French phrases and verbal flourishes, with its fast-paced plot and unforced emphasis on the power of stories to shape lives, this is a very bon livre indeed.
September 2021 Book of the Month | If you’re looking for a creepy place for a holiday, Eerie-on-Sea has it all – mysterious creatures in the waves, strange figures prowling at night, and an end of the pier show to top it all. Fortunately, in the company of the Grand Nautilus Hotel’s lost-and-found boy Herbie Lemon and his best friend Violet, the spooky goings-on are tinged with just the right amount of fun. In their company readers have already experienced adventures that would make your niblets go knobbly (as Herbie would say), they haven’t faced anything like the Shadowghast, a terrifying horned spirit, permanently hungry for shadows. The story plays out in Eerie’s misty, candlelit October nights, when it’s harder than ever to distinguish what’s real and what’s just an illusion. Herbie and Violet’s friendship is tested as never before and the whole town is in danger. Thomas Taylor is as good at creating characters as he is at conjuring up spooky settings and thrilling adventures, which is very good indeed. Newcomers to Eerie and regular visitors are in for tricks and treats!
The Christie and Agatha Detective Agency | What a great book, obviously the start of a fun series. The two main characters, children called Agatha and Christie; one inquisitive and practical, the other quiet and academic, but with the closeness and affinity of twins. The story revolves around a tea party where penicillin (mould juice) is hidden in a sandwich as an experiment, but who is it that takes the sandwich? As the plot unfolds, various interesting characters are introduced, such as Arthur Conon Doyle, the famous writer, and Alexander Fleming the famous scientist. The book is a very clever mixture of fact and fantasy with all the loose ends cleverly resolved at the end. Even Hercule Poirot is hinted at with a passing comment by the Belgian neighbour referring to using ‘one’s little grey cells’ There is a sufficient mixture of humour and mystery to make it very readable. It reminded me of the film ‘Young Sherlock’ that gives you the background/childhood of Sherlock Holmes. The historical references and explanations at the end are well written and would I think spark a child’s imagination and interest to go on and find out more about the author Conon Doyle and the history of penicillin.
Book Band: Grey (Ideal for ages 8+) | An exciting detective story from Chitra Soundar, author of over 50 children's books in the UK, India and the US. Sindhu and Jeet are the best detectives in town: they solve all their cases with a dollop of observation, a dash of imagination and a whole load of legwork. And when they travel from India to England for a holiday, the detective work doesn't stop! This page-turning story is accompanied by black-and-white illustrations by Amberin Huq.
Book Band: Dark Red (Ideal for ages 10+) | An exciting contemporary mystery set in a Thai family in London, by Emma Shevah, author of Dream On, Amber. When Ping visits her Aunty Lek and her cousins Tong and Taptim it usually isn't long before they're on an adventure. Aunty Lek's precious ring is missing, and she's sure it's been stolen. Will Ping, Tong and Taptim be able to solve the case of the missing ring? This contemporary story features black-and-white illustrations by Izzy Evans.
When the good people (and animals) of the Starville space station start sprouting extra heads, arms and legs, it’s clearly a case for junior detectives Connor and Ethan. At first the clues point to Pokeweed’s Perfect Pastries and their delicious snorgleberry tarts, but could the ruthless CEO of FluffyCorp be involved too? With the help of Ethan’s four extra noses, the boys quickly sniff out the villains cooking up trouble. As with the previous book in the series it’s deliciously funny, a perfect mix of madcap humour and crime busting, with the added advantage of being set in space (cue lots of rides on hover scooters for a start). The illustrations by Dapo Adeola are out of this world and add more thrills to the adventure.
Book Band: Lime (Ideal for ages 7+) | Using clever barks and actions, the two dogs are able to help their owner Constable Penrose solve a burglary, using cunning and ingenuity. The book is amusingly illustrated by Nathan Reed. The characters are all rather typecast but in an amusing way; the dim sergeant, the burglars, Bernie and Sam, and Mrs Pudding the baker. There is lots of humour throughout and a great use of alliteration and rhyme – Inspector Hector and dodging dirty dustbins, being two examples. I love how this story, even though it is written for young emerging readers, is set out in chapters. Such a plus for older readers who are struggling as it doesn’t feel as if they are reading stories beneath their understanding and chronological age. The reading zone at the end is packed with good ideas for discussion, a little quiz and ideas for creative writing. I am sure this will prove to be a popular read.
August 2021 Book of the Month | Edie is still grieving for her mother, killed a year earlier in a horrible accident, when she discovers a secret note her mother left for her. It states that the ‘accident’ was anything but, and that this is the first in a trail of clues she has left for her daughter, explaining what it was she was investigating, and why it got her killed. The tension heightens as Edie solves the clues, putting herself in more and more danger. The people who arranged her mother’s murder are utterly ruthless while Edie has very few she can turn to for help. Anthony Kessel handles plot and character well and this DIY detective story will appeal to fans of Holly Jackson and Sophie McKenzie. NB, there’s one particularly violent scene that some readers might find upsetting.
The Sherlock Holmes classic is adapted into a version for young readers here and in a way that catches all the intrigue, drama and atmosphere of the original. Short though it is, all the details and clues are there – the legend of the terrifying hound, the mystery of the stolen boots, the strange lights flashing across the moor at night. Doctor Watson’s narrative is as vigorous as it is in Conan Doyle’s novels, his no-nonsense attitude heightening the thrill of the various spooky goings-on, and Holmes is the same enigmatic figure too. Black and white illustrations punctuate the story nicely and this is both an excellent introduction to these timeless stories and enthralling reading in its own right. Publisher Sweet Cherry have adapted lots more of the Sherlock Holmes stories for young readers which is great, as having read this they will undoubtedly be hungry for more.
August 2021 Book of the Month | What a diamond of a thriller this is - a genuine page-turner that snakes with twists readers genuinely won’t see coming. Who to trust? Who to believe? Sophie McKenzie has struck gold with her latest page-turner. Fourteen-year-old Cat is having a hard time of it, to put it mildly. She’s lost her father, her little sister doesn’t speak, and her mum, a former TV astrology celebrity, is more interested in her work than anything Cat says or does. But after receiving a bolt-from-the-blue text alleging that her dad is alive, Cat throws herself into trying to tracking him down, with the help of a newfound friend, handsome Tyler, the first person she’s been able to open up to for an absolute age. A search for a dad becomes a search for a priceless diamond, which in turn becomes a search for the truth - and then a struggle to understand that truth. Driven by Cat’s endearingly determined, courageous personality, this read-in-one-sitting thriller has family and friendship bonds at its fast-beating heart. Find out more about Hide and Secrets as we chat with Sophie McKenzie, our Author of the Month.