Detective Nosegoode and the Music Box Mystery (Detective Nosegoode 1) by Marian Orlon, Jerzy Flisak and Eliza Marciniak (translator)
|Detective Nosegoode and the Music Box Mystery (Detective Nosegoode 1) by Marian Orlon, Jerzy Flisak and Eliza Marciniak (translator)|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: This starts like a great book I'd long forgotten, but sways a little too close to the forgettable for my liking. Still, it has enough entertainment for the young to consider it.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 128||Date: August 2017|
|Publisher: Pushkin Children's Books|
The lovely village of Lower Limewood is coming awake as it usually does, and people are happily going about their business. Business for the stately, well-known but happily retired Detective Nosegoode is merely idling his time on a park bench reading the newspapers to his dog – a dog that can talk to him in human language, if not read. But not all people welcome the new day with joy – a clockmaker, who had been working for a week now at repairing a music box with a porcelain dancer on top and a clockwork mechanism, finds it – and only it – has been stolen from his business. It's only a step to find the owner was under the illusion it was a clue to some long-lost treasure, but who could have burgled the workshop and taken it? And what place to play in the mystery does a strange man have, what with his avidly watching the Detective from behind a giant and clearly fake beard?
From very early on with this book I had a feeling of déjà vu, but that was only a good thing. I didn't feel as if I knew all the ins and outs of the story, but that I'd certainly read something very, very similar in the past, if not this book itself. Which itself is a mystery, as this seems to be the very first translation of it from the original Polish. Dating from the late 1960s, it's the first in a trilogy I may well have had the chance to read as a youngster, but it seems that was impossible.
But that aspect of déjà vu is actually one to be relished, in that this does feel at first like a lost classic from your childhood – one you took down from the library shelves more than once. It certainly has a little bit of old-fashioned, timeless spirit – the way the character of Nosegoode counteracts that of his dog while both are doing their own investigating is quite quaint, without being cloying. The story has a simplicity and brevity to marry up with the books that do stick in the mind from those days. And it's actually a strong puzzle – who knew about the music box, who took it, what is the bearded man up to, and what will the box lead to are all pertinent questions and you can't fail to be interested in the answers.
The only thing is that to my mind the book doesn't quite live up to that premise. Certainly the adult reader of this will see the way the Inspector delays the reveal as a little unkind, both to the reader and to Cody the dog. He almost comes across as smug, when the man we were introduced to was quite charming. And what we do get from the mystery isn't quite as strong as I had been led to believe, meaning this will not be a book the mature reader will turn to for seconds.
As regards the real audience is concerned, however – the eight to twelve year olds – I think they will find just enough in proceedings. The necessity of the book in being clever enough to surprise – no dumb criminal has ever made for a great mystery book – is still met, even with such a small cast-list of characters. They will like the fantasy of the talking dog, and if they're on the right wavelength for the nostalgic feel things have they will potentially find this trilogy of adventures to have a nice whimsy and warmth. I found traces of that, but just not quite enough for my liking.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
You can also go down the route of having just the dog being the investigator, with something like Grk Down Under by Joshua Doder.
You can read more book reviews or buy Detective Nosegoode and the Music Box Mystery (Detective Nosegoode 1) by Marian Orlon, Jerzy Flisak and Eliza Marciniak (translator) at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Detective Nosegoode and the Music Box Mystery (Detective Nosegoode 1) by Marian Orlon, Jerzy Flisak and Eliza Marciniak (translator) at Amazon.com.
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