Theophilus Grey and the Demon Thief, by Catherine Jinks

9781760113605.jpg‘The parish searcher!’ Mr Paxton exclaimed. He sat back on his heels, squinting at Philo with a quizzical look. ‘May I remind you, Master Grey, that the parish searcher is charged with identifying cause of death, for the bills of mortality?’
‘Aye.’ Philo knew that well enough.
‘Our unfortunate friend is not dead,’ the surgeon pointed out, ‘and therefore has no need of a parish searcher.’ Jumping to his feet, he added, ‘We must take him to the workhouse infirmary. Come. ‘Tis close enough.’

As Theophilus (Philo) Grey guides a new client, Mr Paxton, home, they come across the unconscious form of Jemmy Jukes. Paxton, a doctor, insists on getting help for the man, in spite of Philo’s misgivings. In the days that follow more thieves and rogues start dropping without any sign of injury or illness, and Philo and others suspect some kind of faery demon is at work. With the help of his friends – a team of fellow linkboys – and Mr Paxton, Philo is determined to uncover the truth.

Theophilus Grey and the Demon Thief is an intriguing tale set in the back streets and alleyways of Georgian London. Theo is a linkboy – making his living from guiding people home with a lit torch – and heads a team of boys who do the same, under the control of a shady, house-bound master, who uses them both to raise money and to collect information for him. The mystery of what is causing the mysterious collapse of men like Jemmy Jukes, as well as a sudden swell of crime are what drives the story, but there is additional interest from the workings and interactions of the team.

A back of book glossary and a map of old London on the inside cover will help young readers to access this gripping story.

Theophilus Grey and the Demon Thief , by Catherine Jinks
Allen & Unwin, 2015
ISBN 9781760113605

At My Door, by Deb Fitzpatrick

Deliveries do not come late on a school night. They don’t come in a normal car, that then speeds away. And they don’t cry.

When Poppy hears the doorbell late at night, she wonders what is happening. Then she hears crying, and worried voices. It seems the family has had a late night delivery – but it isn’t a parcel or a letter. It’s a baby. Suddenly the family’s peaceful, ordered life is turned upside down. Where has the baby come from, and why has it been left on their doorstep?

At My Door is an entertaining story about families and familial stress. The issue of the abandoned baby contrasts with the stable life of the traditional family which Poppy is part of of – Mum and Dad, an older brother and Poppy herself. Along with the msyetry of the baby, and the practicalities of helping her, Poppy becomes aware of the difficulties other families face, as will readers.

This is gentle exploration of some potentially weighty issues, a mix which will draw readers in to the story as well as opening up lots of discussion.

At My Door, by Deb Fitzpatrick
Fremantle Press, 2015
ISBN 9781925162707

Wesley Booth: Super Sleuth by Adam Cece ill Michel Streich

Here’s everything you need to know about me:

I’m a super sleuth (which is another word for detective, only awesomer);
I do not have a head shaped like a giant lemon (no matter what my stupid big brother]says); and
I have a nemesis. Her name is Cassidy Strong. Note: she is evil.

And it’s because of Cassidy Strong that I’m standing in front of the whole school, and I’ve just told everyone I’ve solved the biggest case in the history of Hub Hill Primary. Only one problem: I haven’t solved the case, I’m not even close to solving the case, and Cassidy Strong (remember she’s the evil one) tricked me into saying I had. That’s why she’s standing in the front row with a grin so wide it looks like she’s got a banana jammed sideways in her mouth.

Here’s everything you need to know about me:

  1. I’m a super sleuth (which is another word for detective, only awesomer);
  2. I do not have a head shaped like a giant lemon (no matter what my stupid big brother says); and
  3. I have a nemesis. Her name is Cassidy Strong. Note: she is evil.

And it’s because of Cassidy Strong that I’m standing in front of the whole school, and I’ve just told everyone I’ve solved the biggest case in the history of Hub Hill Primary. Only one problem: I haven’t solved the case, I’m not even close to solving the case, and Cassidy Strong (remember she’s the evil one) tricked me into saying I had. That’s why she’s standing in the front row with a grin so wide it looks like she’s got a banana jammed sideways in her mouth.

Wesley Booth: Super Sleuth has a reputation to protect. Or establish. He is sure he will soon solve Hub Hill Primary’s mysterious rash of thefts. If only his offsider would stay onside. If only he can stay out of range of the school bully. If only he can pass his maths test. If only he can beat the new girl, Cassidy Strong. But apart from that – the solution and therefore his reputation is assured. All he has to do is be super-observant, process all the clues he finds. Somehow, despite worsening relationships at home and at school, despite more red herrings than he’d hoped, eventually Wesley prevails. There are black and white illustrations at each chapter heading and scattered throughout.

Wesley Booth was standing in front of the queue when confidence was handed out and somehow received a second helping. Only a double dose of confidence allows him to keep pushing on when everything around him seems to be set against him. He’s also fortunate to have very forgiving friends, because he’s so single-minded that he sometimes overlooks their needs. There is plenty of humour wrapped up in this mystery and readers will be curious to solve it. Classes seem more like secondary classes although the action is set in a primary school, with different teachers for every subject and pass and fail grades. Set up seems to suggest this might be the first in a series. Ideal for confident middle primary readers but also for reluctant older readers.

Wesley Booth, Super Sleuth, Adam Cece ill Michel Streich
Scholastic 2015 ISBN: 9781742991016

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

88 Lime St: The Way In by Denise Kirby

A dark-blue car swung into the gravel driveway in front of the house and stopped in the shade of an enormous fig tree. The rear doors were flung open and three children and a woolly spoodle tumbled out. Barking like mad, the dog began to run backwards and forwards across the garden, chasing all the new smells. The Brewster children stood in a line staring up at the house.

Ben, the youngest, wriggled with excitement, running his hands back and forth through his wild mop of curly hair. ‘Look at the towers!’

His eldest sister, Binnie, wasn’t nearly as impressed. ‘It’s weird.’ Umpteen bangles jangled together as she crossed her arms. ‘It looks creepy.’

Ellen wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. Her brown eyes widened trying to take in every detail of the house in front of her. ‘It’s … unusual,’ she said.

A dark-blue car swung into the gravel driveway in front of the house and stopped in the shade of an enormous fig tree. The rear doors were flung open and three children and a woolly spoodle tumbled out. Barking like mad, the dog began to run backwards and forwards across the garden, chasing all the new smells. The Brewster children stood in a line staring up at the house.

Ben, the youngest, wriggled with excitement, running his hands back and forth through his wild mop of curly hair. ‘Look at the towers!’

His eldest sister, Binnie, wasn’t nearly as impressed. ‘It’s weird.’ Umpteen bangles jangled together as she crossed her arms. ‘It looks creepy.’

Ellen wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. Her brown eyes widened trying to take in every detail of the house in front of her. ‘It’s … unusual,’ she said.

Ellen and her family have moved to a new house. Well, an old house. A very old house full of secrets. The kids at her new school say there’s a ghost, but Ellen thinks it could be something else, something more. The more she explores, the more mysterious the house seems. There’s the dried up fountain that suddenly spouts water. There are the messages that seem to be just for her. As her family adjusts to their new house, Ellen becomes more unsettled. A trio of local bullies seem to have her in their sights. Only the house can provide the answers. At first, there seem to be only questions. Why can’t they find their way into one of the towers? Ellen is determined to unravel the mysteries of the house, which looks to her to be alive. Its fate seems to be tied up with hers. And time is running out.

This is an imaginative spooky mystery for young readers. Although there are ghosts suggested, there are no ghosts, well not yet anyway. In many ways, this feels like the first in a series. Ellen needs her wits about her, and many other skills besides if she is going to work out just what’s going on. Readers will be racing to see if they can solve the puzzles before she can. What at first seems like a mystery with an old house becomes something much more complex. Look out for the clocks counting up the time. Or should that be counting it down? Recommended for mid-primary readers.

88 Lime Street – The Way in, Denise Kirby
Omnibus Books 2015 ISBN: 9781742991009

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

Emerald Springs, by Fleur McDonald

She hoped that the vehicle would pass her and race off into the darkness. Just some idiot anxious to get home. She saw a flash of orange and realised it was an indicator. The vehicle – it was a ute. she thought, a big one, highset, a dark colour, with tinted windows – was pulling out to overtake. She started to breathe a little easier, her shoulders relaxing…
…until the other ute veered straight in front of her, cutting her off and hitting the brakes.

When she asked to take on the role of treasurer for the local rodeo, Amelia Bennett is flattered. She is a qualified accountant, and knows she can do the job well, but she is surprised people trust her, having been regarded as flighty in her teenage years. Throwing herself into the role, she is determined to di it well. But on rodeo night, as she transfers the takings to the bank, she finds herself in more trouble than she could have imagined.

Meanwhile,Detective Dave Burrows has been sent to Torrica to investigate a string of crimes in the area – thefts of fuel and equipment have escalated into bigger robberies. He doesn’t mind being there. It’s a chance to look up his old flame, Amelia’s Aunt Kim. But once he’s there, he’s thrown into investigating Amelia’s hold-up and more.

Emerald Springs is an absorbing rural story – part romance and part mystery, with plenty of both, and lots of action to keep the pages turning. Set in rural South Australia and featuring a strong female lead in Amelia, the story also touches on many issues facing rural communities – debt, drought, family stresses and more.

A cracking read.
Emerald Springs, by Fleur McDonald
Allen & Unwin, 2015
ISBN 9781743315323

Available from good bookstores and online.

A Time of Secrets, by Deborah Burrows

There was a fierce, well-controlled energy about Eric Lund, and I couldn’t help wondering what he’d be like if he became angry. I suspected that he didn’t give in to anger lightly, though. He was holding me close and his hand was firm on the small of my back. I was very concious of the feel of his left hand, holding my right in a secure grip. I looked up, into his eyes. For a moment we just stared at each other, watching each other’s faces as our bodies moved together in time to the music.

When Australian Women’s Army sergeant Stella Aldridge meets Eric Lund, he reminds her of her dead husband, in disturbing ways, and yet she cant’ stop thinking about him, even after he is sent off a mission soon after they meet. Her mind should be elsewhere. She has overhead a threat to kill someone, a threat which links Eric and her new boss, the very attractive Lieutenant Nick Ross. While Eric is away, Stella must work with Nick to try to uncover a traitor who is putting surveillance missions, and lives, at risk.

A Time of Secrets, set in Melbourne during World War II, is an absorbing blend of romance, action and mystery.Readers are given an inside look at part of Australian war history they may not know about, with the fictional characters and relationships set amongst the real events of the time. Stella, previously an artist, and a war widow, has enlisted in the Women’s Army and her flair with languages has seen her deployed to Melbourne to work in Intelligence. Her determination not be hurt does not stop her from taking risks or from looking after herself and those around her. Readers will enjoy watching her development, as well as seeing that of the men in her life.

Excellent historical fiction.

A Time of Secrets, by Deborah Burrows
Macmillan, 2015
ISBN 9781743532997

Available from good bookstores and online.

Bad Seed, by Alan Carter

Cato could recall exactly the moment he no longer wanted to be Matthew Tan’s godfather. It was warm sunny afternoon in late spring…

When Cato Kwong is called in to a brutal murder scene, he quickly realises that this investigation is going to be very personal. The victims are his old friend Francis Tan and his family. the sole survivor is Tan’s eldest son Matthew, who has moved out of home, and is the first suspect. The investigation takes Cato places he never expected to go – including to Shanghai, where he learns about the country of his forbears = both its highs and its lows.

Meanwhile, his boss, DI Hutchens, deals with health issues and ghosts from his own past, and Lara Sumich too has plenty of distractions of her own, even if they are of a very different kind.

Bad Seed is the third title featuring Cato (Phillip) Kwong, a Fremantle based detective with a strong sense of justice and a determination to uncover the truth. Each title stands alone, though Cato is a character you want to read more about, so going back and reading the other two is no hardship.

 

Bad Seed

Bad Seed, by Alan Carter
Fremantle Press, 2015
ISBN 9781925162257

Available from good bookstores and online.

Meet My Book: Marble Bar, by Robert Schofield

It’s always nice to welcome an author to chat in the Meet My Book feature. Today we welcome Robert Schofield – here on the release day of his new book, which makes his visit extra special. Welcome Robert!Robert Schofield (2)

1. Give us the details – title, publisher, illustrator, release date.

Title: Marble Bar
ISBN: 9781743316849
Publication Date: June 26 2014
Publisher: Allen & Unwin

2. Why did you write the book?

Marble Bar is the sequel to my first novel: Heist. It was part of a two-book deal with my publishers, who were adamant that they wanted a sequel, set in Western Australia, with the same protagonists. Who was I to argue?

3. How long from idea to publication?

When I was negotiating the two-book contract, my publisher asked how long I had taken to write my first book. Wanting to sound nonchalant, I told them I had knocked it out in 18 months. This was a mistake, because it was a loaded question. They then assumed that I could write the second one in the same period, and wrote a delivery date into the contract. I’d never written to a deadline before, and it was difficult with that weight on my shoulders, but I delivered. It was another six months between delivering the manuscript and publication, so two years in total.

marble-bar-cover-900x600

4. What was the hardest thing about writing it?

It was the Difficult Second Novel. As well as the deadline hanging over me, I had to prove that the first novel was not a fluke. If you’ve poured everything into your first novel, what can be left for the second? It’s only natural that on the second visit to the well, you might find that it’s gone dry. This of course is why publishers offer two-book deals. They understand that it is the second book that separates the professional from the dilettante.

5. Coolest thing about your book?

My book isn’t cool, it’s smoking hot. It’s set in the hottest town in Australia, and the cover says ‘Welcome to Hell’. With my first book, I had no input into the choice of title and the design of the cover, but with Marble Bar my publisher kept my title and used my photographs on the cover, so I guess that’s pretty cool.

6. Something you learnt through writing the book?

I wrote my first book in complete freedom, with no expectation of publication. It was just something to keep a restless mind occupied. The second one had a whole lot more riding on it, and I had to learn a different approach. It taught me discipline.

7. What will you do to celebrate the release?

We will be celebrating the publication at Planet Books, Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley on Friday 27th June from 7:00pm.
My friends Malcolm Dix and Sean Gorman will be officiating and entertaining.

8. And how will you promote the book?

Promotion of the book is in the hands of the lovely Lara, who is my publicist at Allen & Unwin. She will present me with a list of media interviews after the launch.

I have a series of events planned at libraries around Perth, generously supported by Dymocks Bookshops:

Gosnells Knowledge Centre: Sat July 5th 10:30am

Fremantle Library: Thurs July 10th 6:30pm

Karrinyup Library: Weds July 16th 6:30pm

9. What are you working on next?

I’m currently working on a sequel, the final part of the trilogy, which I am doing as part of a Doctorate in Creative Writing at Curtin University. As if I hadn’t got enough on my plate working full time and wrangling three kids, I thought I’d set myself another challenge.

10. Where we can find out more about you and your book?

My website is: robertschofieldauthor.com

My publisher’s site is:

https://www.allenandunwin.com/minisites/crime-city/books/9781743316849/

Thanks for dropping in Robert – and congratulations on the book!

Almost Dead, by Kaz Delaney

What I learned today:
1. It’s never wise to run in ten-centimetre platforms, no matter how well you think you can handle them.
2. My knowledge of the great outdoors is sadly lacking. Tents, for example, have ropes and things that can trip you up. Very easily.
3. My image of psychics wearing too much cheap jewellery and draped in floaty scarves may be way off but, like, since when did psychics look like surfer gods?

Macey sees dead people. This would be disturbing enough, but when she realises the ghost-boy who’s visiting her isn’t actually dead yet, she has no idea what she’s supposed to do. If she doesn’t figure out how to help Nick she’s going to go crazy.

Soon though, she realises that Nick isn’t her only problem. Her mother has walked out and her dad has come home with a whole other family for her to adapt to. The surfer god who’s masquerading as a psychic keeps popping up in her world. Oh, and maybe, just maybe, somebody is trying to kill her.

Almost Dead is a wonderful mix of so many things: romance, humour, mystery, teenage angst, the supernatural, and more. So many elements could be overwhelming, but instead it is delightful. Macey is an engaging, quirky character who is likeable, strong and, at times, frustratingly independent. What happens t her is pretty scary but it’s also told with humour, in a satisfying mix.

Suitable for teen readers, Almost Dead can be read as a sequel to Dead, Actually, but equally well stands alone.

 

Almost Dead, by Kaz Delaney
Allen & Unwin, 2014
ISBN 9781743313268

Available from good bookstores and online.

You can see an interview with Kaz Delaney here.

The Lost Girls, by Wendy James

I am fourty-four years old. A happily married woman. I shouldn’t be with this virtual stranger, letting him run his hand down and then up my thigh. You see, in my head this is all about the past. It’s about Angie, about Rob and about Mick, too. But what if I’m wrong? What if it’s just about me? About my life now? What then?

In 1978 fourteen year old Angie goes missing, while staying with her cousins in Sydney. When she’s found, dead, police investigate and, when a second girl is murdered weeks later, it seems there’s a serial killer in action. Thirty years later a journalist turns up asking to interview the surviving members of Angie’s family, to find out how the murder impacted on the family. For Jane, who was Angie’s younger cousin, this comes at a time when her life is changing. Confronting the vents of the past is initially uncomfortable, until Jane realises it is  liberating to open up and to let go. But facing the events surrounding Angie’s death may force her to question everything she thought she believed.

The Lost Girls is a powerful exploration of confronting the past, the present and the truth. As the mystery of Angie’s death slowly unravels, the people closest to her are pushed to grow and adapt. While this isn’t always a comfortable experience, for the reader it is intriguing.

Thrilling, thought provoking and satisfying.

 

The Lost Girls

The Lost Girls, by Wendy James
Penguin, 2014
ISBN 9781921901058

Available from good bookstores and online.