First up is The Case of the Exploding Loo, the first book in a developing series starring twelve year old Noelle Hawkins and her unusual family. You can probably tell by the title and the cover that this is a children's book and one that promises to be full of quirkiness and humour. The plot is centred around the apparent death of Noelle's wacky scientist father, who the police believe self-combusted whilst visiting a portaloo. But Noelle isn't convinced and sets about trying to uncover the truth about her father and the mysterious 'brain ray' he had been working on before the explosion.
This book moves at an engaging pace and I found it refreshing to read something which was pure fun, with pieces of science thrown in to add an extra layer of interest. It is written in a hugely entertaining style and the characterisation is extremely strong. Humorous illustrations complement the text and there is a series of 'clue boxes' which set out various important aspects of the investigation and help the reader to follow a plot which turns out to be more meaty than I expected. In my opinion, this is a terrific read for children. I know I would have absolutely adored it thirty years ago and it still gave me much pleasure now.
The Case of the Exploding Brains is the second book by Rachel Hamilton and follows on from The Case of the Exploding Loo, reviewed above. Once again Noelle Hawkins has a mystery to solve. This time it involves the seemingly impossible theft of a moon rock from the museum. But nothing is that straightforward for Noelle. It turns out that the moon rock isn't quite what it seems and needs to be recovered before it affects the brains of everyone who comes into contact with it. As if that wasn't enough, Noelle strongly suspects that her father is once again at the heart of the puzzle as his behaviour becomes increasingly bizarre.
As with its predecessor, this book is paced beautifully and engaged me from the start. If anything, I enjoyed it slightly more than the first one as the characters were familiar and had come together to form a team. This mystery involved more clues, more red-herrings and lots of fun. There is teamwork, deduction, humour and slap-stick comedy. What's not to like? I'm very much looking forward to the next installment and can only applaud Rachel for coming up with such off-the-wall, clever and well thought out stories. Great stuff.
I love most types of fiction - crime, mystery, fantasy. Oh, and historical fiction of course and middle-grade books and, well, you get the picture.
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