Nathaniel Wolfe and the Bodysnatchers by Brian Keaney

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Nathaniel Wolfe and the Bodysnatchers by Brian Keaney

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A second outing for the junior psychic detective. It's a satisfying adventure and also rich in accurate historical detail. This time the focus is on bodysnatching.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 208 Date: April 2009
Publisher: Orchard
ISBN: 1846165741

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Nathaniel Wolfe is bored in the countryside. He's tremendously fond of his newly-found grandfather and very happy in his equally new-found life of luxury and comfort. But he's bored. Nathaniel is a Londoner, and poverty-stricken though his previous life might have been, he misses it. He misses the hustle and bustle, the noise, even the dirt. And most of all, he misses the danger and excitement.

He doesn't languish for long though - bodysnatchers are plundering the graveyards and stirring up more than they bargained for. The dead aren't resting in peace and, as always it seems, the unrestful dead make a beeline for Nathaniel. With a mystery to solve, it's back to London for a rendezvous with his old friends Lily and Jeremiah, and a lot more supernatural sleuthing.

I like these books. They're Famous Five or Hardy Boys mysteries with fairly simple plots but enough red herrings to keep things from being entirely predictable. The characters - except for the villains, who are satisfyingly, well, villainous - are well-rounded and credible, and the writing is accessible and well-paced, maintaining tension very effectively.

The real hook, though, is in the wealth of accurate historical detail. Nathaniel's The Haunting of Nathaniel Wolfe by Brian Keaney|previous adventure]] talked about the fake seances that were so popular in Victorian times. This second instalment talks about the gruesome practice of bodysnatching, another headline topic for the keen junior student of history. Opium dens also feature. There's also a gentle authorial tone of censure about the gross social inequalities of the age. Nathaniel's grandfather represents the kindlier corner of his society, making one think of the great philanthropists like Rowntree and Barnado, but Keaney makes no bones about the terrible lives suffered by some.

Recommended for all mystery lovers and history fans aged ten or eleven and up.

My thanks to the nice people at Orchard for sending the book.

A slightly more lighthearted take on Victorian England is The Dragon Tattoo by Tim Pigott-Smith.

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