I’ve been eagerly waiting for the next adventure with my favourite British-Pakistani detective and so I was thrilled when I was granted an advanced read of ‘Agent Zaiba Investigates: The Haunted House’ through Netgalley. After successfully solving cases involving missing diamonds and poisoned cup cakes, Agent Zaiba returns to solve a third case and adds a few new members to the Snow Leopard Detective Agency UK Branch along the way.
The Booker family are thrilled to have moved into Oakwood Manor, a house steeped in history, and Zaiba is delighted to have made friends with Mr & Mrs. Booker’s daughter, Olivia. The family are looking forward to having their new neighbours over for a house-warming but some strange occurrences are threatening to derail everything. Step-up Agent Zaiba and her backpack of detective goodies to solve whether Oakwood Manor really is haunted or if there is another explanation for the strange happenings…
This is another cracking read in the ‘Agent Zaiba Investigates’ series which has the perfect mix of spooky, suspense and mystery with a big helping of Pakistani culture. With an ancient house that has all the traditional haunted house traits - set in the quieter part of town next to a dark forest - and filled with secret passages and hidden rooms, readers are in for a fast-paced narrative with plenty of heart-racing moments. Like the other reads in the series, the book follows a traditional detective style. Follow the clues and gather the evidence, interview the suspects, identify the red-herrings and then gather everyone together for the grand revealing of the culprit - hopefully achieving all of this before the arrival of an inept police chief.
The Agent Zaiba books are a great introduction to the detective and mystery genre and are perfect for giving readers a taste of the joys of such reads. Whilst they lack the gore and deaths that appear in ‘The Murder Most Unladylike’ series they are still big on drama and are incredibly exciting reads. Amateur sleuths will have great fun discovering the clues with Zaiba and trying to piece together the evidence to identify the culprit. I hope readers do a better job of it than I did, I definitely need more detective practice before I’m ready to join Zaiba’s detective agency.
Author, Annabelle Sami, is big on increasing the representation of funny girls and diverse characters in children’s books and this is successfully achieved in her latest read. Zaiba, Poppy and the other girls all bring their own charm and humour and there are characters of different ethnicities and the inclusion of different family dynamics including mixed-race parents, a step-mum and a same-sex couple. It is so important that young readers can see themselves and their families represented in the books that they read. Loveable Zaiba is the star of the show and her delightful character shows readers the importance of friendship, teamwork and valuing others.
As in the previous books, Daniela Sosa provides the lively illustrations which are great fun and packed with character as well as providing readers with opportunities to pause as they build up their reading stamina. In addition to the story there is plenty of bonus content included at the back which amongst other things includes a bit of history, information on jinn, some very awkward dad jokes and a recipe for Ali’s stuffed aloo burgers. I am very much looking forward to the next case, Agent Zaiba Investigates: The Smuggler’s Secret.
Recommended for 8+.
With thanks to Stripes Publishing (an imprint of Little Tiger Group) and Annabelle Sami for the review copy that was received through Netgalley. Coming April 2021.