A thrilling crime-novel for a middle-grade audience that is almost impossible to put down.
It’s almost Christmas and Maya is happily snapping pictures of the Christmas lights on Regent Street from the top of a bus. Everything seems perfect until she sees the couple arguing and, when the flash goes off, it reveals something unbelievable – the man has a gun in his hands. To make matters worse, the flash makes him look up. Suddenly Maya’s a witness and, when a body turns up, she’s whisked away from her immediate family to somewhere the police think is safe – her aunt’s remote farm in the Welsh mountains. Cut off by the snow, Maya should have nothing to fear. But the police can be wrong.
Written in first person from Maya’s point of view this is a thrilling middle-grade adventure that is almost impossible to put down. Everything about the story works. We immediately identify with Maya when we meet her sitting on the bus, debating what to wear to the end-of-term party. Her voice is realistic and entirely believable. The other characters are all well rounded, particularly Maya’s truculent cousin, Ollie. My personal favourite, however, was Aunt V who intends to be caring but can’t seem to remember the important details, like the fact that Maya is a vegetarian.
While the characters are strong, it is the exciting plot that is the book’s main appeal for me. Within just a few pages of the opening we are gripped by the fact the man on the street has a gun and, from that moment, author – Fleur Hitchcock – does not let us go. Exciting and dramatic events pile on top of each other, with just enough time for the reader to catch their breath. We’re appalled when the police don’t initially take Maya seriously and terrified when Maya’s sister is kidnapped. Then, when Maya finds herself dumped with her aunt in the middle of nowhere, we have a brief respite to assimilate the new characters and setting before the plot and action picks up again.
An exciting crime-novel for a middle-grade audience, Murder in Midwinter is about as good as it gets. Indeed, I enjoyed this so much I intend to read Fleur Hitchcock’s other novels. Why not join me and check out Dear Scarlett?
Publication date: October 2016
Publisher: Nosy Crow
Author’s website: Fleur Hitchcock
Review first published on The Bookbag