The Case of the Exploding Brains by Rachel Hamilton

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The Case of the Exploding Brains by Rachel Hamilton

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: A decidedly oddball parent or two, lots of bad-tempered people and suspicious behaviour at the Science Museum – yet another funny mystery for Noelle 'Know-all' Hawkins and her friends to solve.
Buy? yes Borrow? yes
Pages: 256 Date: February 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1471121333

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You'd think, with one parent in prison and the other one hardly ever moving from the sofa, that middle school student Noelle Hawkins would have far too many problems on her hands already to start worrying about the occasional little explosion at the Science Museum. After all, that's the kind of thing that's bound to happen in a place littered with heaps of seriously wacky inventions, right?

But our madcap heroine, her rather violent sister Holly and their friend Porter can't resist a mystery, especially when Stephenson's Rocket and the Apollo 10 command module threaten to come to life just as a very important item goes missing. Add to that the sudden appearance of various bits of equipment in a rather fetching shade of turquoise, Noelle's least favourite colour, and it's clear the baddies from book one (The Case of the Exploding Loo) are well and truly back. In fact, things are soon looking extremely grim – end of the world and all life as we know it grim.

Second books are hard, and lots of things that occurred in book one of this series have a big impact on what happens here. Porter's living with the Hawkins family, Dad's locked up and being as unhelpful as ever when it comes to clues and suggestions, even though he's being bullied by a bunch of inmates with huge muscles and tiny brains, and a particularly nasty villain is back with revenge in mind. Like it or not you have to understand certain key relationships between the characters, and Ms Hamilton makes a good fist of dropping essential facts in where needed. Such background information doesn't hold the story up particularly, but the reader won't be able to avoid the thought that it would be much easier to read the books in order. Having said that, this story is full of bounce and slapstick and general silliness which will have you gasping with shock one minute, while the next will see you laughing so much you roll off your chair and almost squash the cat.

Noelle is a fabulous heroine. She's quirky and single-minded and not ashamed of the fact that she's extremely clever. In lesser hands, a bright girl like her could end up being portrayed as bossy and snooty, but in fact, she's very endearing and has a brilliantly sharp sense of humour. Any nine-year-old would be glad to have her as a friend (as long as she didn't invite her older sister along - Holly's solution to most problems is to pummel somebody until things are fixed) and the pages of the book are littered with funny bits of wordplay and cards listing clues and conclusions so no one is left out. It's a light-hearted read that will cause you to both think and laugh – what more could you ask?

As mentioned above, you'd probably do well to read the first book in this series, The Case of the Exploding Loo before getting stuck into this one. If you like your girl detectives bright and cheery, getting into all sorts of scrapes, do try Murder Most Unladylike (Wells & Wong Mystery 1) by Robin Stevens and the sequel Arsenic for Tea. Oh, and while we're on the subject of mysteries from another century, don't forget Slightly Jones Mystery: The Case of the Glasgow Ghoul by Joan Lennon and The Case of the Hidden City – lots and lots of fun! Newer readers might enjoy Unicorn in New York: Louie Lets Loose! by Rachel Hamilton.

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Buy The Case of the Exploding Brains by Rachel Hamilton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Case of the Exploding Brains by Rachel Hamilton at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Case of the Exploding Brains by Rachel Hamilton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Case of the Exploding Brains by Rachel Hamilton at


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