A whodunit which has something of the style and feel of Murder on the Orient Express for young readers.
Kate and her mouse-accomplice, Rupert (Roo), are young reporters in training. As luck would have it, they fall upon a mystery as soon as they embark on a long train journey to visit Kate’s mother who is a scientist working in the Arctic. An odd assortment of objects starts to go missing, including ginger nut biscuits and sports trophies. Armed with The Special Correspondent Manual, a book written by Kate’s idol, the sleuths set about interviewing passengers, deciphering clues and getting into all sorts of bother. Worryingly for Roo, the most likely culprit, Madame Maude, is the owner of a large cat with two golden eyes. An extremely large, talking animal with an unusual talent takes centre stage in the hilarious culmination to this entertaining story.
There is much here to engage newly independent readers. The text is broken up with a delightful series of black and white illustrations drawn in pencil and ink by the author. Some of these are interspersed within the text and others are double page spreads which the reader will delight in discovering unexpectedly as they turn the page. The introductory pages contain portraits of the colourful cast of characters who are to appear in the story along with several drawings of cross sections of the railway carriages – a way to entice young readers into the story and allow them to conduct some investigative work of their own.
There are many comic touches which accompany the twists and turns of the plot which ensures an engaging and readable text. The relationship between Kate and Roo is a great source of fun, particularly their exchanges during interviews with the various suspects.
This is the first title in a chapter series which promises to be very popular for budding young detectives.