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Are you a fan of Crime / Mystery? Check out all our Crime / Mystery book selections, read reviews, download extracts and you can order the book too!
UKLA Shortlist Book Awards - 2019 | July 2018 Book of the Month | Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 | Shortlisted for the Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award 2018 | One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2017 | | A book to break your heart, quicken your blood and stir your soul by one of the most outstandingly distinctive writers to have emerged in a long, long time. New Yorker Joe Moon was only seven when he took the call in which his big brother Ed told him he'd been arrested because “they think I done something real bad”. That “something” led to Ed winding up on death row, convicted of murdering a cop, though he insists he’s innocent. Ten years later, now Ed’s execution date has been set, Joe travels to Texas to say goodbye. The sublimely-formed structure slips between present and past, recounting the brothers’ troubled upbringing - how their Mom took off; how Aunt Karen took control and decided that Bible study and never mentioning Ed again was the only route to their salvation. While she insists that there’s no point wasting life or money helping someone who wasn’t sorry, Joe sees things differently. “He's my brother,” and that’s really all that matters. He has to see him. Lawyer Al, who’s taken on Ed’s case for free, offers some hope, but time is running out. “It's better to be guilty and rich, I reckon,” Joe remarks, as he experiences the excruciating injustices of a legal system in which the harshness of a sentence depends on where a crime takes place, who the victim was, and who you can afford to pay to represent you (crucially, Ed had no representation when he was first arrested). Once again, Crossan's free verse form is breathtakingly powerful - always the right word, in the right place, at the right time. Yes, this is harrowing and heartbreaking, but the kindness of the strangers Joe meets in Texas is achingly uplifting, as is the deep bond of love between Joe and Ed. This really is a magnificent feat of writing.
Good news for anyone who likes exciting mystery stories starring children: the Secret Seven are back in new adventures specially written by Pamela Butchart. Older fans of the series (hands up if you had your own Secret Seven inspired club as a kid – I did) will be reassured to know that the essence of the series is unchanged – the gang are as jolly and go-getting as ever, clearly smarter than the adults they encounter, and the (many) descriptions of tea-time feasts are simply delicious. This episode concerns strange goings-on in the grounds of a hotel – why are the new owners digging such a big hole in the garden, could it be something to do with buried treasures? Pamela Butchart understands as well as Enid Blyton how to write page-turning adventure, and just what young readers want in their fictional heroes. Hoorah for the new Secret Seven!
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | July 2018 Debut of the Month |Historian Janina Ramirez’s TV programmes are as inspiring as they are informative. Her passion for Viking history comes through loud and clear in this story for young readers, which is also inspiring, and a great crime mystery too. Young Alva lives with her mother, uncle, baby brother and pet wolf Fenrir in the Viking settlement Kilsgard. Her father is away ‘a-Viking’ and much missed. The peace of their community is disturbed by the arrival of an English monk. He says he’s on the trail of treasure – certain to catch Viking attention – but has been attacked, a companion kidnapped. Alva is determined to investigate and soon on the trail, at first independently, then as semi-official assistant to her investigator uncle. The mystery comes closer to home still when the two discover secret messages from Alva’s father amongst the clues. Readers will pick up a real sense of Viking life as they compulsively turn the pages of this gripping adventure and Alva is a great new character in children’s books. Readers who can’t wait for the next book in the series will enjoy Caroline Lawrence’s historical crime series The Pinkerton Mysteries or the Artie Conan Doyle series by Robert J. Harris.
The resurgence in crime stories for young readers, led so stylishly by Lauren Child (Ruby Redfort), Lauren St John (Kat Wolfe Investigates) and Robin Stevens (Murder Most Unladylike) continues and readers will find their interest piqued and their brain cells given a good workout by this new detective series. Agatha (after Christie) Oddly has a nose for mystery. Just as well – a hit and run in Hyde Park where she lives with her park keeper dad, leads her into some very strange and really rather dangerous goings on, involving an attempt to destroy the city of London and a very secret, secret society. Added treats for readers include Agatha’s quirky best friend Liam and her rivalry with a bunch of snobby girls at her posh school (she’s on a scholarship).
June 2018 Book of the Month | Wonderfully chilling, this is another thrilling treat from E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars. Two girls, in an intense relationship are both looking for escape but at what cost? When one disappears events suddenly become darker and we fall into a world of murder, fraud and villainy as identities are blurred and friendships crossed. There's a fine line between superhero and supervillain when someone needs to save herself. Lockhart's writing is edgy, fast paced and keeps you guessing until the end. Creepy, provocative and daring the protagonists (Jule and Imogen) continually leave you with a sense of unease as they draw you in not knowing what to believe and where the novel will take you next. We're looking in from the outside but Lockhart only lets you see what she wants you to before shocking you over and over with the sudden twists in events. Brilliant as always, E. Lockhart continues to enthrall with this, her latest thought provoking novel. ~ Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here.
There’s a new mystery afoot in this entertaining sequel about Noble Warrior and his owner. Everything seems calm. Young horse lover Charlie Bass is getting her life back on track and her horse Noble Warrior is safely back in his stable after the excitement of the race. But, after such fame, is he safe? Soon Nobel Warrior goes missing. How will Charlie ever track him down? TV presenter Clare Balding has created a terrific adventure with a heart warming relationship between a young owner and her horse at the heart of it.
Hot on the heels of the first Rory Branagan adventure comes this new story and The Dog Squad is every bit as sharp and quirky, and possibly even funnier. Dogs in Rory’s neighbourhood are going missing and he’s determined to track down the thieves, especially when his beloved Wilkins Welkin is snatched. Confined to his bedroom, his foot in a surgical boot, Rory can only watch as his associate Cassidy sneaks into the chief suspect’s house. It’s all a bit Rear Window in fact, but with the added joys of a comic dog fight, the intervention of Mrs Welkins and her slipper, and Rory’s big brother’s nascent moustache. Meanwhile Rory’s efforts to find out why his father left them continue and two new clues are revealed. This parallel plotline adds an extra layer and touch of genuine poignancy while Ralph Lazar’s illustrations match the text in wit and idiosyncrasy.
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | June 2018 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: animals, adventure and an irresistible cast of characters This new series has everything that marks out the best, most satisfying and enjoyable children’s books. For a start there’s a smart but impulsive, ready-for-anything central character in Kat Wolfe, who quickly finds an equally enterprising new best friend, Harper Lamb. Then there’s a procession of the best pets/animal helpers ever, from half-feral Savannah cat Tiny to flighty racehorse Charmed Outlaw, to movie-line quoting parrot Bailey. Put them into an adventure involving genuinely threatening double-crossing secret agents, and incompetent would-be assassins, all set in a beautiful and perfectly described Dorset coastal village, mix in warm family relationships, and you have one of the best new adventure stories of the year. Lauren St John brings all the elements together with seemingly effortless ease and there can’t be a young reader in the country who won’t lap this up. ~ Andrea Reece
UKLA Longlist Book Awards - 2019 | Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2018 | “The day is long, the world is wide, you’re young and free,” Davie’s mam announces at the start of a sweltering day. But Davie doesn’t feel that way. He recently lost his dad and “he hates this dead-end place, where nothing seems to happen, nothing seems to change. Sometimes he just wants to walk out of it and keep on walking and leave it all behind”. Then this morning, as Davie walks through his hometown, David discovers that something has happened - a local lad has been killed, and Davie thinks he knows who’s responsible. Amidst the speculation of his Tyneside neighbours, Davie embarks on a pilgrimage of sorts, encountering a cast of wisdom-imparting folk along the way. There’s wooden-legged Wilf who shares advice and fruit gums; the openhearted priest who makes a confession; the girls creating a “world of wonders” garden. While walking, Davie feels the flutter and ache of grief as “bleak, black memories” surface but, as a friend of his father says, “sometimes a memory or a dream is a fine place to be”. “What is lost might be discovered again, but in a different form”, counsels another character. And as he continues on his way, watching out for the murder suspect, Davie seems to find his father in another form. Wise and soulfully unexpected, this is truly a book for all ages, by an author who exudes the uncanny elegance of a master conjurer.
May 2018 Debut of the Month | In a Nutshell: Intense exposé of extreme misogyny and male privilege An unflinching novel about brutally toxic masculinity, male collusion and how justice systems and society at large are still appallingly rigged against women. Life is tough for Ellie and her dad in their decrepit ghost town. Ellie’s mom ran out on them when she was still a baby, she’s cripplingly lonely and her dad never fulfilled his dream of becoming a filmmaker. Convinced – and told by her peers - that she’s ugly, Ellie’s dream is “to be pretty. That’s part of what makes a girl,” she remarks. “Girls who are pretty are likeable. Pretty is power.” So when privileged Caleb tells her she’s pretty, she craves him, even though she also “hated how he made me feel uncomfortable”. His attention legitimises and comforts her, even when he dumps her, even when he’s humiliates her. And then it’s too late. He and his family are monstrous, and Ellie can’t escape. The brotherhood of abuse portrayed here will sicken and shock, while your heart will ache for Ellie, for her dad, and for the love and friendships she deserved to enjoy. Relentlessly raw and unusually framed, this is perhaps best recommended for fans of crime fiction with conscience. Bold in its bleakness, this steers well clear of any kind of happy-ever-after Hollywood ending. In real life baddies don’t always get what they had coming. In real life not everyone has a best friend to turn to. On a positive note, this might just enrage to the point of inspiring readers to take a stand on issues of systemic misogyny, and it makes a strong case for the need to take time to truly get to know people, to find friends you can open up to. ~ Joanne Owen
April 2018 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2018 A deliciously exciting story with a great boarding school setting which weaves together reading and mystery in a most engaging way. Exclusive St Rita’s girls’ boarding looks like a very ordinary place. But when new girl Daphne arrives she finds that nothing is quite what it seems. Things are especially odd in the library! Can Daphne get to the bottom of what is going on? Dave Shelton’s illustrations capture the spirit of the story perfectly. ~ Julia Eccleshare Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for April 2018 The Grotlyn by Benji Davies The Book Case: An Emily Lime Mystery by Dave Shelton Lady Mary by Lucy Worsley The Wardrobe Monster by Bryony Thomson The Tale of Angelino Brown by David Almond You Are Awesome by Matthew Syed
Bestselling author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Lydia Monks have teamed up for another brilliant picture book. Right in the farmyard among all the noisy animals with their MOOs! and QUACKS! and BAAs! and OINKs! lives a tiny silent ladybird. This beautiful glittery creature (little fingers will love to feel her sparkly shape) is so quiet that she hears two crafty robbers plotting to raid the farmyard. And she comes up with a very clever plan to stop them, helped by the very noisy animals all around her. A wonderful adventure with gorgeous stylised illustrations. ~ Julia Eccleshare Can you find all the words in this special What the Ladybird Heard Picture Wordsearch?
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