Monday, 6 July 2015

Elen Caldecott - Crowns and Codebreakers (Marsh Road Mysteries 2) Book Review

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's (2 July 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408852713
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408852712

This is the second book to be published in the fantastic series 'The Marsh Road Mysteries'. At the time of reading this book, it soon became evident that I had not actually read the first book in the series, which really surprised me. However, I had no problem in picking up the story from page one and really engaging with it; you can jump straight into this contemporary detective mystery and let your imagination run away with you. 

At a time when we have many more books being published in this vein, the thought to be considered is whether this series is worth reading. I would definitely say yes, as the book is centered around the classic elements of a good detective story; the plot contains many influences and topics which are very engaging. 

The narrative is based around five likeable children: Piotr, Minnie, Andrew, Flora and Sylvie. Each character represents the British population rather than the average stereotypical portrayal in books over time.  Through these brilliant characters, friendships and family life are explored. Each aspect is well written and instills a good sense of reality and humour to the adventure. 

When Minnie's gran comes to stay, we are introduced to a character that is more colourful and larger than life. She is much brighter than the book cover itself. The infusion of Nigerian culture, through Minnie's gran, makes the heart of a good story humming with warmth, feeling and depth which makes it standout from the crowd. 

The story has an intriguing start as Minnie's Gran notices that she's picked up the wrong suitcase at the airport. This one is full of boy's clothes, and not her favourite tea. But when their house is burgled and the only thing that is taken is the suitcase, Minnie realises there'll be much more trouble than she bargained for. This is a real page turner as you follow the gang's teamwork and detective skills to solve this imaginative story. 

Classically loaded with plenty of red herring moments, this story is set in an urban environment which mystery lovers will relate to and fall in love with. It's cool, well plotted and full of sleuthing and action. The book explores current topics and issues like art smuggling and child exploitation that make you really think as you follow the investigations. It's a more think outside the box plot which makes it different to the rest. 

This is a very engaging read with some hand-in-your-mouth moments. It is a mystery aimed at the middle-grade audience that will be a sure fire winner and is a great complement to the first instalment 'Diamonds and Daggers'. Hopefully the third book in the series will be out early 2016 - I'm really looking forward to that.  In the meantime, I am going to start by reading the first book for myself. 

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