Friday 27 December 2013

Children's book review : Dead Man's Cove (A Laura Marlin Mystery) - Lauren St John

We've only just discovered the Laura Marlin Mystery series, having been sent the first book in the collection, Dead Man's Cove, to review, but I've just been to investigate and there are already another three books on the shelves - Kidnap in the Caribbean, Kentucky Thriller and Rendezvous in Russia.

The first episode is set in a less exotic but nevertheless wild and windswept location, namely Cornwall. We meet kind-hearted but strong-willed Laura, who has been living in a children's home ever since her single mum died giving birth to her eleven years ago. Her life is about to change dramatically as an unknown uncle has just come to light and agreed to take in his niece, despite only just learning of her existence.

Laura discovers the sleepy town of St Ives and is given a free rein by her uncle, who is rather enigmatic, spends all hours out at work and is pretty much reclusive. Laura makes a new friend, Tariq, from the corner shop, until he mysteriously decides he doesn't want to be friends with her any more, and she ends up adopting a three-legged husky in need of a home. Despite her dream of becoming a famous detective, she doesn't go out of her way looking for adventures and mysteries to solve - they seem to find her !

The book reminded me very much of the Famous Five books I enjoyed as a child but brought right up to date and given a social conscience. The book touches on some serious issues, such as the human slavery trade, illegal immigation and child abuse, but in a very child-friendly way. I love the strong female character who would give any of her male counterparts a run for their money, and the supporting cast of characters add some humorous moments.

Even as a grown-up, I found it well written and exciting, so I'll definitely be looking out for the other books in the series, to read myself before passing them on to Sophie and Juliette. The book was given the impressive title of Blue Peter Book of the Year 2011, so I'm not the only one to be won over. I'd say it is suited to readers of both sexes, aged around 8-12.

The Madhouse Mini-testers' final words :

8-year-old Juliette's review : It was a really good story because it was exciting and you didn't know what would happen in the end. I like the animals, especially the dog with three legs because nobody wanted him but he ended up being a hero.

12-year-old Sophie's review : It reminded me of a less babyish Enid Blyton story, but more modern because it mentions mobile phones and internet and seems more realistic. I like the way it mentions real life things like children being brought over from Bangladesh and being promised a great new life but being exploited in factories, as well as the traditional adventure story.

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £6.99

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Orion Childrens (7 Mar 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444001485
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444001488
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 cm

Disclosure : I received a copy of the book, in order to write an honest review.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Picture book review : Father Christmas Comes Up Trumps! - Nicholas Allan

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