Monday, 9 November 2009

The Littlest Detective in London by Suzy Brownlee

April 2009, Prospera Publishing
192 pages, Paperback
Review copy


Cushions: 3
Smiles: 5
Yunaleska's recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Just because Clemmy is under four foot tall doesn't mean she is short on ideas. Life has been a little strange since her mother disappeared a year ago. Her father hasn't really done anything about it (a big clue that he knows something he's not letting on - the bigger clue is in the prologue, told from Clemmy's mother's point of view as she is kidnapped). Clemmy wouldn't have known where to start looking for information, if it hadn't been for the uber-rich, beautiful 14 year old Natasha's mobile phone. Well, perhaps I'm jumping ahead a little.

It all really begins when Clemmy has to go and stay with Mrs Mac, her permanent babysitter after school and in the holidays. Mrs Mac adores food, so much so that what could have been swear words get turned into phrases like 'Cranberries and custard' (pg 39). There are worse things to put with, like having to hide in a bathroom and think up a way to make the smoke alarm go off so the crime lord's daughter won't capture her. I was stumped for ideas of things to burn in a bathroom, but 9 year old Clemmy finds a way.

Every young detective needs help. The way Clemmy teams up with Japanese Pete, who loving calls her Short Stuff-chan, is entertaining and memorable. Swans have an extra reason for making me smile now. Fortunately Pete doesn't take Clemmy as seriously as he should, leaving Clemmy with opportunities to find out more about the mystery which began in Mrs Mac's knitting club. I've been to knitting clubs, and where I live there are no spies, no diamond encrusted mobile phones and no rat-like cats.

Natasha wouldn't be caught dead in a knitting club - why bother when she can buy a £5000 outfit? She loves her father dearly, and is doing all she can to get him out of prison. Strange as it may seem, he didn't deserve to be there for the particular crime he was accused of. Clemmy's acquisition of her phone enrages Natasha. Out comes a plastic spider to help Natasha get her precious phone back. Trust me when I say that fake spider is more productive than her henchman who should never have arrived in England. Igor, Natasha's underling back home (well, technically her father's but she's in charge now) makes a mistake. Poor Hench (seriously, that is his name) and his silver tracksuits make the wrong impression on Natasha. She's resourceful, and manages to outwit poor Clemmy - but not for long.

It's not as if many issues get resolved by the end of the book. I suspected the sequel would be a carry over of this story, and I was right. I checked out Suzy Brownlee's website for The Littlest Detective, and discovered that the series is currently planned to span 8 books - including a trip for Clemmy and Natasha to Tokyo! (The significance is that I love anything to do with Japan so am eager for that installment of the series).

The Littlest Detective in London is a hilarious, fun adventure story which everyone can enjoy. I like the music video (check out the Littlest Detective website) which intrigued me before reading the book, and makes more sense now I've read it. Additionally the realistic pictures inside the book really bring out the emotion in the story - the look on Clemmy or Natasha's face either has me laughing or wanting to cry. Amidst the laughter there is a subtle pain and anguish for both girls. Having Natasha's point of view shows that evil villains aren't all bad, and they have their own worries too. Yes, I feel a bit sorry for Natasha, but only a little.

Details of Suzy Brownlee's sequel The Littlest Detective in Paris (which will hopefully be reviewed here) can be found on her website and also at Prospera Publishing's website.