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Find our latest selection of crime and mystery books, from serious whodunnits to failed comic detectives.
December 2021 YA Debut of the Month | Set in a super-elite high school, How We Fall Apart, Katie Zhao's super-suspenseful YA debut, serves insights into race, class and the pressure to perform in gripping style. Shimmering with secrets, love, toxic peer pressure, parental pressure and tested loyalties, the novel delves deep into the world of academic competitiveness to create an edgy fast-paced thriller. Voiced by scholarship student Nancy Luo, “the daughter of two immigrants who’d fought tooth and nail to make it to the States, only to spend years struggling to make ends meet”, the story begins with the disappearance of one of Sinclair Prep’s most tipped-for-the-top pupils, Jamie Ruan. One-time best friend of Nancy, Jamie is the kind of girl who “could get away with anything, do away with anyone”, until someone does away with her. It’s not long before Nancy and her three friends seem to be the prime suspects in her murder, with an anonymous poster on the school’s gossip app incriminating them and threatening to reveal their darkest secrets. Tingling with suspense, and an undercurrent of class division, fans of edgy YA thrillers will be turning the pages at breakneck speed as the mystery twists and turns in unexpected directions.
December 2021 Book of the Month | Gritty, authentic and inspirational, Jennifer Mathieu’s Bad Girls Never Say Die explores the tangled aftermath of an assault with incredible power. There’s tragedy, there’s heartache and, above all, tremendous love felt through this story of a young woman who bravely resolves to forge her own path (“I refuse to live my life for someone else”). In short, it’s the perfect coming of age novel. Like SE Hinton’s The Outsiders (on which this is based), Bad Girls Never Say Die is set in the sixties against a backdrop of deep social divide. Evie and her friends are from the wrong side of the tracks - bad girls who are seen as “trash.” But when Evie is assaulted by a rich kid, she’s saved by one of his kind - beautiful, wealthy Diane, but her sisterly action has tragic consequences. Though set some decades ago, the themes of Bad Girls Never Say Die remain as resonant today - class division, class conflict, and the bad that comes from making judgements on the basis of background and appearance. Then there’s the friendship, peer pressure, loyalty, and falling in love. The unfair family expectations, troubled home-lives, and the fact that it’s “different for boys”, who are afforded greater far freedoms than girls. Gripping, relatable and emotionally engaging, Bad Girls Never Say Die is a triumph.
December 2021 Debut of the Month | There’s something special about Eddie Albert and that is he can understand and talk to animals. He keeps it a secret of course, but even so it’s got him into scrapes at school (he was rescuing a trapped seagull) plus the other kids think there’s something not quite right about him. When he’s sent to stay with his wealthy Aunt Budge in Amsterdam then, imagine his surprise to discover that she can do it too. His holiday gets even more exciting when he spots a kidnapped orangutan that desperately needs help. With his new friend, Flo, plus his pets Butch the dog and Bunty the hamster, Eddie sets out to rescue the creature. The adventures that follow are funny, lively and feature a fabulous cast of characters including one of the best villainesses since Cruella de Vil. The author’s love for animals shines through and Butch and Bunty provide many of the best moments. There are black and white illustrations by Sue Hellard throughout, an extra treat, lovely sketches of the setting and our heroes, the two and the four-legged ones.
1945. War has ended, but for sisters Isobel and Flora the struggles still continue. They've lost their father and had their home destroyed in a bombing raid, and now they must go to live with their aunt and her awful husband Mr Godfrey in their ancestral home, Splint Hall. From the moment of their arrival it seems that this is a place shrouded in mysteries and secrets. Who are the strange men who arrive with packages at night? What is the source of the strange blue sparks coming from the ground? And why do the locals seem to hate their family so much? As the girls begin to unearth an ancient myth and family secret, the adventure of a lifetime begins.
Lucy, Max, Charlie and Joe aren't looking for new friends - they have too many of their own problems to worry about. But when the four of them, and Charlie's faithful dog, Sherlock, spot a phantom figure on Southwold beach one winter's night, they are thrown together to unravel a mystery that none of them expected. The deeper they dig, the bigger the adventure becomes - motorboats and tracking devices, bedroom breakouts and daring sea rescues are all in a day's work for the After-School Detective Club. But when their investigations lead them into trouble with the police, there is only one thing left to do - they must go undercover for a final showdown with a ruthless gang of smugglers who will stop at nothing to get what they want.
The brand new, read-in-one-sitting, packed-with-twists mystery from bestselling Lisa Thompson. Todd and Laurie's dad is either on top of the world, taking them on fun adventures, or down in the depths and sleeping all the time. In the middle of the night, he bundles them into the car and drives them to the Paradise Hotel. He paints a picture of a luxurious mansion surrounded by acres of land - a fairground, a swanky swimming pool, a grand ballroom, firework displays. The reality is a rundown dump - and the disappointment means Dad takes to his bed. Todd and Laurie have the run of the place, and meet Scout, the daughter of the owner, who tells them about the night many years ago when a famous novelist vanished from her room on the top floor, which was locked from the inside... with clues to crack, a mystery to solve, and Dad to worry about, this holiday is full of twists and turns. A sensitive, empathetic portrayal of having a parent with bipolar Funny, moving and brilliantly plotted - a true page-turner The Grand Budapest Hotel meets Paddington 2!
The First World War has ended, but it hasn't gone away. When Natty has to move to a new village, she meets two young soldiers who are still battling the effects of war. Huw can't forget the terrible things he's seen, but Johnny doesn't even remember who he is. As Natty tries to keep a secret and unravel a mystery, she finds her own way to fight for what she believes in - and learns that some things should never be forgotten ... This mesmerising historical mystery includes an interactive clue so readers can unravel the mystery alongside the characters.
Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | Bess has left the London workhouse behind for a job at a rural cotton mill. But life at the mill is hard and cruel- a far cry from the fresh start Bess hoped for. The only way to survive is to escape, but the mill is like a prison with no way out. Meanwhile, rumours are spreading about a vicious creature that lurks in the millpond. Bess is sure it's all nonsense, until one night she sees something stir in the murky water. But is it really a monster that lives in the depths of the pond? Or a creature trapped and alone, just like Bess, desperate to escape ...
Anisha the accidental detective and her friends Milo and Mindy are back in another lively adventure. Their school has been selected to put on a musical as part of a national competition – it will be about Albert Einstein – and it’s Anisha’s year who’ll be performing. Milo and Mindy get star parts, Anisha is happy to work as assistant director helping their lovely, if somewhat superstitious drama teacher Miss Jive. When rehearsals are interrupted by a series of accidents, Miss Jive puts it down to bad luck, but Anisha suspects there’s more to it: could someone be deliberately sabotaging the show? As ever, the story is full of humour with Anisha’s lovely family making frequent appearances and contributing to the fun. The Famous Five would admire Anisha’s detecting skills (and envy her for the wonderful spreads Granny Jas creates), but this is a fresh and thoroughly modern adventure with a wonderfully engaging set of characters. Emma McCann’s black and white illustrations add to the overall liveliness of the telling and this series is a must-read for all young would-be detectives.
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?
All the best magic happens when the clock strikes midnight . . . Enter a world of wonder in the brand-new classic adventure from the fastest-growing UK children's author, Ben Miller. George and his father live next door to a family who have a very soppy dog. One night, George chases an escaped Midnight into the garden and they both fall into a fountain, magically lit by moonlight. Suddenly, the two have swapped places: George is now a dog, and Midnight is a ten-year-old boy! Finding out what it's like to be a dog is completely amazing, until George uncovers an evil plan that could threaten his home and needs to switch back again. Can the two save the day before the clock strikes twelve, or will they be stuck in each other's bodies forever? A magical-mishap adventure between a boy and his dog best friend - discover the funny and heartwarming classic storytelling from bestselling author and beloved actor, Ben Miller.
Embark on a thrilling fourth adventure in the bestselling, prize-winning Adventures on Trains series - Danger in Dead Man's Pass, from M. G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman, as Harrison Beck investigates an ancient family curse high in the German mountains. Illustrated in black-and-white throughout by Elisa Paganelli. A mysterious letter from an old friend asks Hal and Uncle Nat to help investigate a spooky supernatural mystery. Legend has it the Kratzensteins, a family of rich and powerful railway tycoons, are cursed, but there is no such thing as a curse, is there . . .? Hal and Nat take the night train to Berlin and go undercover. From a creaking old house at the foot of the Harz mountains, they take the Kratzenstein family's funeral train to the peak of the Brocken Mountain. Can Hal uncover the secrets of the Brocken railway and the family curse before disaster strikes?
A brand-new adventure beyond your wildest dreams, from the bestselling authors of KID NORMAL. Unlike most 12 year-olds, Maya Clayton is desperate to go to bed early. Falling asleep is the only chance she has to save her dad - the brilliant but slightly odd Professor Dexter. The Professor invented a device that allows you to visit other people's dreams. But the devious Lilith Delamere has trapped him inside a nightmare and Maya and the mysterious Dream Bandits must find a way to rescue him before it's too late! Maya will face a dangerous journey and some difficult choices. But sometimes all you need is a dream . . . and a bit of courage. Featuring a hospital heist, some banana-loving llamas and a talking cat called Bin Bag, this is one mind-bending adventure you won't want to wake up from.
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.
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