I was very excited to get my hands on a copy of ‘Crowns and Codebreakers’ by Elen Caldecott after sharing the first in the series ‘Diamonds and Daggers’ with my daughter. Unfortunately for me my daughter had this annoying habit of taking it to school and reading 50 pages at a time which meant I ended up missing vital parts of the story. This time I wasn’t going to make that mistake again so I waited for her to read it and then she recommended it to me, which is not how it usually happens.
This book is the second in Elen Caldecott’s Marsh Road Mysteries featuring five children Piotr, Minnie, Andrew, Flora and Sylvia who are great friends and work hard to solve mysteries. Minnie’s gran is visiting her from Nigeria and accidentally picks up the wrong suitcase at the airport. When Minnie opens it up instead of hibiscus tea there are boy’s clothes in there and a strange postcard. The house is then burgled and only the suitcase goes missing, so Minnie thinks there is a definitely a case to be investigated.
We then see our intrepid five try to find out why the suitcase has been stolen, what has happened to the boy who owns it who they feel must be in danger. As events unfold we find ourselves in a world of smuggling, kidnap and menace which moves at a fast pace as we try to solve the mystery. The story manages to keep up the suspense throughout and keeps you on the edge of your seat as you discover there is no one you can trust and feel that the children are genuinely in danger. It’s inevitable that having five children investigating crimes will draw comparison to Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series and I’m sure fans of these will love this book. However the Marsh Road Mysteries are much more reflective of life today, less lashings of ginger beer and idyllic settings, and therefore more realistic for today’s readers.
This was one of those books which I had to read in one sitting as I really couldn’t put it down. Elen keeps you guessing right to the end and the story has the right level of danger and mystery to keep you intrigued. If you know a child that loves mysteries and being thoroughly entertained then this book and the series is a perfect choice.
To accompany the book Bloomsbury has produced a fab activity pack for any would be investigator.
If you want to find out about the other books Elen has written you can visit her website:
And finally a big thank you to Elen for sending me a copy of this book for our school library. She kindly took pity on me as it was my birthday and I failed to win the competition she was running