The One That Got Away (Misfitz Mysteries) by Josh Lacey
|The One That Got Away (Misfitz Mysteries) by Josh Lacey|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A very pleasant and jolly kids' adventure mystery, with a peculiar crime leading to old-fashioned larks in the countryside for the titular gang.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 304||Date: June 2009|
|Publisher: Marion Lloyd Books|
Ben is not having the best of times. His mother has packed him, his sister, his step-sister and his half-brother into the one small country cottage for the summer holidays while she writes a book about - naturally - convoluted, non-nuclear families. This means sharing bunk beds with Frank, a grumpy, insular, geeky fellow, permanently plugged into headphones and his laptop. That is, until something strange happens with the prize strawberries in the vegetable garden.
Ben's mum is one of those with kind and well-intentioned rules to be obeyed. One of them is to not go too far in the surrounding countryside - especially not into the private properties around - and to respect the cottage they've got free rein over. So when some rare, exotic and particularly nice strawberries are ruined overnight, Ben decides to find the culprit.
I don't like to give the game away, and all I'll say is the criminal is right there on the cover artwork. What I will start by saying is how great it is to see a series for the young reader that takes such little time to get going. It doesn't pause for breath or get bogged down in scene-setting. Right from the off we see Ben on his detective work, and his escapades gradually gain a companion here, an unwelcome colleague there, until all four semi-siblings are involved in getting to the root of the affair.
And it's a very pleasant affair. To some perhaps it might be a little too mundane, but to me it involved a fair amount of creepy little scenes, swift changes in mood from levity to seriousness, and a very realistic supply of drama and threat for the youngsters.
The four children are done very pleasantly. They're not the most perfectly rounded characters in fiction, but they come across with nice, subtle and small detail - such as the youngest with her seemingly bionic hearing. The description is much more concerned with giving us the action and emotions of the piece, and while there is a circular, repetitive pattern to the drama, the book works on all levels to create a success.
The book left me with some thoughts, bizarrely, about Enid Blyton. Why is it people these days cannot churn out as many popular titles? I for one will not want to wait much more than a year for the next Misfitz book, and there is this author's Bearkeeper series to be going on with as well, for the slightly older audience.
I wouldn't want to go too far down the road of saying this is old-fashioned tea-and-crumpets adventure, however - I don't want anyone to be put off this joyous frolic. It has the spry, light touch of Half Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer, the pleasant animal-based mystery thrills of Tarantula Tide by Sharon Tregenza, but a whole host of elements to enjoy that are all its own.
It's a light, summery read, that firmly takes the young reader - of either gender, happily - by the hand, and thrusts them deep into a realistic and perfectly formed mystery such as I didn't think were written much any more. For the touches of simple characterisation, quaintness of plot, and some je ne sais quoi about the whole thing that I can just boil down to Quality, I have to recommend it. And all because of some strawberries...
I must thank the Scholastic people for the Bookbag's review copy.
If you think your nearest 9 year old would like something as fun, but with added bizarre and mystical factors, you should turn to The Name of this Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch and its sequel.
You can read more book reviews or buy The One That Got Away (Misfitz Mysteries) by Josh Lacey at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The One That Got Away (Misfitz Mysteries) by Josh Lacey at Amazon.com.
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