Classic junior sleuthing

I was in the mood for a mystery so couldn’t resist this classic ‘Secret Seven’ style read. There’s a good plot that I really enjoyed, including the corporate sabotage aspects and the demolition threat which were a great way to freshen up the trope, and add urgency. I confess I was puzzled by the appearance of a coal cellar with actual coal in it in today’s world (there are mobile phones so I’ve not got my time periods wrong) but other than a spot of confusion, it wasn’t an issue.

When I started I didn’t realise that it was part of a series, and I haven’t read the others so it definitely works as a standalone. I think if I’d read the first two, I might have a deeper understanding of the characters, but that certainly wasn’t an obstacle to plunging straight into book three!

Although aimed at ages 9-12, I’d actually place this as slightly younger, around 8-10. This does create an issue around the lack of parental supervision and questionable decisions that would be less concerning for older/ YA, and it would be worth having some discussions with any young readers. It’s always a challenge with kids books to give the characters enough freedom without setting a bad example – as Katherine Rundell says “there’s nothing so endangered in children’s fiction as a mother” before writing the mother out of the book!


Pursuing the truth can be a dangerous game…

School’s out for the summer, and Eye Spy Investigations have a new case – looking for Lady in Red, a lost masterpiece by Victorian painter, Gabriel Pascoe.

The clock is ticking for Alex and Donna, because the artist’s house, Acacia Villa, where their friend Jake lives, is due to be demolished, and vital clues may be destroyed. And Alex has an additional problem: he is terrified of snakes, and Jake has a pet snake called Queenie…

As the twins pursue their enquiries, they come up against the man who wants to demolish Acacia Villa. But Mr Mortimer is the godfather of their baby half-sister, Sophie, and criticising him could open up family rifts, which have only just healed.

Then Queenie goes missing, setting in motion a disastrous train of events that will turn the search for Lady in Red into the twins’ most dangerous case yet.

About the author

Tessa Buckley was an inveterate scribbler as a child, and spent much of her time writing and illustrating stories. After studying Interior Design, she spent fifteen years working for architects and designers. She took up writing again after her young daughter complained that she couldn’t find enough adventure stories to read. This led, in 2016, to the publication of  Eye Spy, the first in a series for 9-12 year olds about two teen detectives. There are now two more books in the series: Haunted, which was a finalist in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards 2017, and Lady in Red. She lives by the sea in Essex and recently completed an Open University arts degree.

About Lexi Rees of adventurous books for children, horse-mad sailor and crafter, caffeine fuelled.

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