Marvellous Middle Grade Mysteries

Regulars to the blog will know I’m a huge fan of mystery books. If I have a huge pile of books to review I will always be drawn to mysteries before any other genre and having tried writing them myself I admire anyone who can effortlessly weave clues seamlessly throughout the plot and keep the reader guessing. Today I will be sharing some brilliant books all very different but what they have in common are intriguing protagonists, tightly knitted plots and above all a highly entertaining and engaging story.

Agatha Oddly: The Secret Key/Murder at the Museum – Lena Jones

The ‘Agatha Oddly,’ series was brought to my attention by my ten year old daughter who insisted that I would definitely love it and had to read it. And of course, as always she was right. Agatha Oddlow is the kind of character I just adore, wonderfully quirky, downright fierce and a lot foolhardy. Named after Agatha Christie, Agatha has detecting in her blood and has been waiting for her first big case for as long as she can remember. In ‘The Secret Key,’ her first case, Agatha doesn’t expect that her investigations on the attack of an elderly lady will lead her to discover a hidden world of secrets beneath London. Leading to her to discovering a most surprising revelation about her mother, questioning everything she has been told about her death. ‘Murder at the Museum,’ is equally thrilling with it’s dramatic and dangerous storyline that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Slick, fast paced and delightfully perilous this series is a sure fire hit with the most interesting super-sleuth I have come across in a long while. They’ve already proved to be incredibly popular at school.

Lori and Max – Catherine O’ Flynn

‘Lori and Max’ manages to pack in a whole lot of drama and tension in 182 pages, which is really remarkable. I have a lot of children who love a good mystery but are intimidated by books with hundreds of pages so I was really intrigued to see if this could deliver an equally compelling story and it really did. Lori and Max forge an unlikely friendship, they both have complicated lives and stand out for being different. Lori is an orphan who lives with her wonderfully eccentric gran, while Max is struggling as her Mum battles depression and her Dad’s gambling habit leaves them in desperate circumstances. Lori wants nothing more than to be a detective and when Max and a whole heap of money goes missing, she’s convinced that Max is innocent and is determined to clear her name. For me this stands out for showing the power that true friendship has in the most difficult of times. Lori refuses to accept how everyone sees Max even risking herself to save her. I think it’s really important for children who have difficult lives to see themselves in a book where actually that’s not the main theme. By having this in the background for me it has more impact on the reader. I’m really hoping that there is more to come from Lori and Max.

Trouble in New York – Sylvia Bishop, illustrated by Marco Guadalupi

Set in the1960s, a time when everything was changing and everything seemed possible ‘Trouble in New York,’ is a really original mystery. Jamie has always wanted to be a reporter, desperate to win the coveted Young Reporter of the Year award. A chance encounter puts him in the path of Harry Hooper the editor of the New Yorker, who impressed with Jamie’s enthusiasm invites him to visit the newspaper. When Jamie is asked for a favour, he unwittingly finds himself caught up in a world of treachery and danger, when he encounters New York’s most infamous villains. Can he uncover who is responsible for all of these terrible crimes. Sylvia has assembled a cast of characters, I particularly loved Eve who refuses to be the perfect, pristine daughter her Mum desires. With twists and turns at every corner, we are cleverly drawn down paths only to discover that what we thought was true is false and those who we think we can trust are not to be trusted. A clever and slick mystery, wonderfully atmospheric and downright entertaining.

Clifftoppers: The Fire Bay Adventure – Fleur Hitchcock

Fleur Hitchcock is better known for being the writer of dark crime stories for older readers but luckily for us she has turned her talents and created the ‘Clifftoppers,’ series. When Aiden, Chloe, Ava and Josh go on holiday to their grandparent’s cottage they experience a world of wild beaches and no curfews, which inevitably leads them to getting mixed up in all sorts of adventures. The second book in this series ‘The Fire Bay Adventure,’ promises a mystery packed with secret smuggler tunnels, suspicious fires breaking out and of course dastardly adults who are clearly up to no good. It’s a real rollicking adventure that I devoured in one sitting, such a satisfying and engaging mystery. Perfectly primed for younger readers not quite ready for full blown middle grade mysteries but containing just enough danger and peril to keep them gripped, this is a fab series.

Thanks to Firefly, Nosy Crow, Scholastic and Tibor Jones for sending me gifted copies of these books in exchange for an honest review. All of these books are available to buy now online (click on link in title) or from any good bookshop.





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