Adam Hills, hit comedian and host of the UK’s award-winning channel 4 series The Last Leg, enters the world of children’s fiction, bringing his humour and perfect comedic timing to a whole new audience.
Twelve-year-old Charley Parker and her best friend George Carling are living the dream. Ever since Charley’s classroom music video went viral, life has been a whirlwind of European cities, selling out concert venues and meeting and greeting fans.
But when valuable pieces of art go missing in the same cities that Charley is performing in the duo find themselves in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Someone is trying to frame them and it is up to the two best friends to turn detective and prove to the world that they are not international criminals before it is too late…
I love a good crime-solving mystery and Hills hits all the right notes. Fast-paced, lively, joke-filled and with a very enjoyable mystery to solve, Hills’ debut will go down a storm with the amateur sleuth brigade who have enjoyed titles such as The High Rise Mystery (Shana Jackson), Murder Most Unladylike (Robin Stevens) and the Adventures on Trains series (M. G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman).
Social media whizz George, who is a BAME character and uses a wheelchair (great to have diverse representation in children’s books) and singing sensation Charley make for a great detective duo. With all of the evidence pointing to the two friends, unconvincing alibis and unable to prove that they didn’t commit the crime, the only way to clear their names is to find out who did. Cue chases in the middle of the night, secret spying missions, a frantic search for evidence and a rather inept police officer all too keen to make an arrest. A host of viable suspects with numerous reasons for being involved in the crimes will have readers joining the hunt and hastily scribbling down clues for their own case notes. I did have a sneaky suspicion of who the perpetrator might be and for once I was right.
With the power of social media these days, Charley and George’s experience could happen to any child. The rapid rise to fame, the rockstar life and the criminal element is spot on and I love that the children feel so real. For all of the glamour in their lives they are two very normal kids who have to deal with friendships, families and social media trolls and are doing their best to shine at school, keep up with homework and like nothing more than being at home.
Featuring awesome illustrations by Luna Valentine, chapters with dates, times and locations and inclusions of case files and social media posts, readers will find themselves right at the heart of this well-written and modern mystery.
With huge thanks to Penguin Random House for the copy I received in exchange for an honest review.
Recommended for 9+.