The second in the Marsh Road mysteries, this is an enjoyable detective story for 8-12 year olds. It’s also refreshing to meet a more diverse group of children and find a modern multi-cultural setting treated simply as a normal backdrop to an adventure story.
Minnie’s not too keen on sharing her already tiny room with her gran when she arrives from Nigeria. However, worries about floor space and how to open the wardrobe door are quickly replaced by more serious concerns. Gran is upset. She picked up the wrong suitcase at the airport and she’s convinced it’s a bad omen. And it almost seems like she’s right when their flat is burgled and the only thing that is taken is the suitcase. The police aren’t interested but Minnie and her friends know there must be a reason behind the burglary. There’s a mystery and it’s up to them to solve it.
The second in the Marsh Road mysteries, Crowns and Codebreakers once again has all the classic elements of a good detective story. It’s a slightly slower read than the first book in the series – Diamonds and Daggers – but I’m sure fans of the Marsh Road team will love it just as much.
I enjoyed getting to know the members of the gang better but personally found Minnie less sympathetic than Piotr (the main character in the first book). I also missed my favourite character – Sylvie – who is doesn’t really get her chance to shine until the end of the story. I’m guessing that author, Elen Caldecott, is planning to alternate the main characters in the series so I’m now eager for the one with Sylvie in the lead and also the eccentric Andrew: it will be such fun to read a story from his viewpoint. In this book I laughed out loud at Andrew’s antics when Minnie asked him to distract the owner of the art gallery.
Again, the vivid description of Marsh Road means the physical location almost becomes a character in its own right. I can both smell and hear the market and clearly visualise all of the locations in the book, especially Minnie’s mum’s hair salon and the café the gang use as an informal headquarters.
The plot is well structured and doesn’t give away too much too soon making it easy to keep turning those pages.
Overall this is an enjoyable read and it is certainly refreshing to meet a more diverse group of children and a modern multi-cultural setting that is treated simply as a normal backdrop to an adventure story.
If you enjoyed this, you might also like Diamonds and Daggers – The Marsh Road Mysteries by Elen Caldecott. Or for a different type of detective story with a child protagonist try Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens or Arsenic For Tea also by Robin Stevens.
Publication Date: July 2015
Author: Elen Caldecott
Review first published on The Bookbag