Blurb: All aboard! You’re holding a ticket to an incredible new mystery adventure.
Harrison Beck and his Uncle Nat are enjoying the final journey of the Highland Falcon, Britain’s most famous steam train. But when a precious jewel goes missing, Harrison and his new friend Lenny find themselves at the centre of the investigation. Can they solve the mystery and catch the culprit before they reach the end of the line?
Title: The Highland Falcon Thief
Author: M. G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman
Illustrator: Elisa Paganelli
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books, part of Macmillan Publishers
Genre: Fiction, Middle Grade, Mystery, Adventure
Join Hal, his Uncle Nat and new friend Lenny on their quest to expose a highly sought-after jewel thief aboard The Highland Falcon steam train before they reach their last stop!
There are so many things that I loved about this book – most of all the fact that I simply just didn’t guess the ending! It’s rare for me to be so blind sighted when it comes to a mystery as I’m usually able to pick up on the clues but this one really got me. I won’t spoil the ending here but suffice to say it was the last person that I expected but it totally made sense. My main worry when I couldn’t work it out was that it would feel like just a way to wrap things up and wouldn’t make much sense but, rest assured, it did. The clues were there all along but with all of the characters hiding something or another, it kept me on my toes. Another thing that I really enjoyed where the characters themselves. The way that they were described meant that it was easy enough to distinguish between them in group settings but was reminiscent of Murder on the Orient Express which I loved. The illustrations were wonderful and at points acted as Hal’s own drawings which I really appreciated as it made them blend even more into the story. There was even an illustration of the route that the train takes so that you could track its progress through the chapters.
I also want to note that although this book is co-written, you wouldn’t know it. Each chapter flows seamlessly and never felt clunky or like we were missing something. Everything was interwoven excellently and new information was revealed at good intervals to keep things ticking along at a good pace. Also, don’t be put off about the story taking place on a train! There is a fair amount of train knowledge but it’s not overwhelming and never became boring, more like it’s peppered in as the some of the characters introduce interesting tidbits to Hal which feels a lot more natural.
As for what I disliked, there was very little. It did throw me off a little about how Hal would say he was so worried about his mom (SPOILER: she’s in hospital having Hal’s little sister) and then there would be no mention of it for a while. It felt a little like the authors were just trying to remind us why Hal was on the train with his uncle but it wasn’t necessary. This didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story but was a little jarring at times. Also, I’d note that there’s reference to an instance or two of animal abuse as one of the characters has dogs which obviously aren’t loved by their handler, but they all do go on to life happily ever after at the end.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to readers both young and old if you’re after a good old-fashioned who-dun-it which will keep you guessing!
Have you read this book? Have you read anything similar that you’d recommend? What did you think? I’d love to know!