The Case of the Exploding Loo by Rachel Hamilton
|The Case of the Exploding Loo by Rachel Hamilton|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: Certainly an inventive thriller for the under-twelves, but anybody older will be so ahead of the curve they'll be frowning at every mention of intelligence.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: May 2014|
|Publisher: Simon & Schuster Childrens Books|
Noelle (or Know-All to many) is daughter to a famous TV presenter and science boffin, intent on making the human race a much smarter one. Well, he was, for he visited a Portaloo one Christmas Market time and it blew up, leaving just his shoes. Only Noelle and her sister, the vicious Holly, are left thinking the case is something much greater – the police have given up, as has the girls' mother, who has turned into a slob on the couch. But impetus is given to Noelle by unusual things her unusual maths teacher has been getting her to solve…
Intelligence is to the fore in a book like this. Noelle, with an alleged IQ of 157 and a photographic memory, could easily be insufferable – luckily, however, she is not, and comes across very personably with her own narration. There is a great level of humour, and rich sense of comedy, to keep the book on our side too – neither talked down to nor alienated by the talk of braininess. It's important the plot shares some nous too – it has to be brainy and convoluted enough to keep the mystery sustained in the light of the clever Noelle being flummoxed by it.
And that's where the book almost fails. While her personal connection to the plot – and there is a huge lot of it I'm just not going to include in any summary for public consumption – might be in her defence, the actual narrative is just so blatantly obvious you can't get anywhere near the end without being frustrated at her not seeing the wood for the trees. I can't speak from the position of an under-twelve, who should be reading this and not me, but I can see some of them getting the mystery solved easily as well.
That said, there is an energy to the telling, and again those good jokes, alongside some quite weirdly clever clues, that do amount to a better read. There's the depth of it all, when you include Holly and her chainsaw, and the new friendship Noelle forms with a lad called Porter. There's the snappy clue cards Noelle makes for herself that interrupt the page in little box-outs and give a small individual sheen to things. Finally, to recommend it, is the fact that while it's for an audience barely a year or two older than that for The Great Hamster Massacre by Katie Davies and its ilk, it is a full-length novel. Now, if the mystery had remained fully throughout and not been solved by me ridiculously early, I'd be eager to welcome more in this series. As it is, there is a nice effervescent style, and certainly potential here, with this debutante author.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
Another juvenile detective can be had with the series containing Agatha Parrot and the Odd Street Ghost by Kjartan Poskitt.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Case of the Exploding Loo by Rachel Hamilton at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Case of the Exploding Loo by Rachel Hamilton at Amazon.com.
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