20 Books of Summer: Book 2

Published by Quercus Children’s Books on 14th May 2020. Cover Illustration by Nan Lawson

A Girl Called Justice:  The Smugglers’ Secret is an absolutely delightful return to Highbury House Boarding School with the eternally curious Justice Jones as she hunts down another mystery to solve, and finds herself caught in a web of intrigue that kept me utterly engrossed from start to finish. 

Justice Jones has returned to Highbury House after the Christmas break where she finds the new matron, Miss Robinson, sneaking around the School at night.  Her friend, the maid Dorothy, thinks there may be a mystery surrounding the matron, and Justice is in agreement.  What can she possibly be up to, sneaking into the basement which is out-of-bounds for the students?   Justice is determined to find out, even if this means breaking a few rules.

Meanwhile, the second-year students are expected to take part in the School’s Good Citizenship Programme which matches them with a villager who they can help.   Justice is assigned to visit Mr Arthur of Smugglers’ Lodge who wants her to read the newspapers as he is blind as a result of a war injury.  They develop a warm relationship with Mr Arthur revealing that he has returned to Smugglers’ Lodge as he seeks to be reunited with a relative, a relative Justice may be able to help him locate.  But when a terrible crime is committed, Justice finds herself caught up in a dangerous mystery to identify the culprit, and reveal the identity of Mr Arthur’s relative.

This is a truly engrossing mystery, filled with tension and excitement, which reveals tantalising clues, fascinating secrets and unexpected twists … a classic whodunnit which kept me on tenterhooks as I worked to unravel the clues.  

Highbury House Boarding School is richly depicted with a real Gothic feel: an isolated, marshland setting, cold rooms and horrible food, yet there is also a warmth and cosiness as the girls’ form friendship bonds and enjoy midnight feasts in their dorms. 

The atmosphere is brilliantly evoked throughout as the tension builds, fog rolls in and a storm brews … as the hidden history which connects the School and the Lodge is revealed, justice and answers are sought …

I wasn’t snooping, I was sleuthing …

Justice Jones is a brilliant and incredibly likeable young sleuth.  She is courageous, determined and curious and, with trusty journal in hand, once again turns her hand to solving a terrible crime.  She doesn’t care about the social conventions of 1930s Society, and fitting in with the popular girls. She surrounds herself with some wonderful friends who support her in her sleuthing, and help her feel a part of Highbury House.

This is an incredibly enjoyable mystery which utterly gripped me.  I really hope that Justice will have more adventures at Highbury House as I’d love to go sleuthing with her again.

4 thoughts on “20 Books of Summer: Book 2

  1. I still haven’t read the first of these. I’m hesitant.
    Obviously the boarding school plus mystery elements immediately make me think of MMU – how do you think this compares?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t read MMU but from reading Lily’s reviews, I think this one is suited to a slightly younger audience! These are very quick reads but the unravelling of the mystery is really well done – and I just love the Gothic feel of Highbury House.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, I didn’t realise that (or more likely forgot!)
        That’s the impression I get, I’m just not sure whether – having read MMU, I just wonder whether I’d get a bit annoyed that they felt samey but younger or whether there’s enough other stuff to set them apart. I’ll have to try and squeeze one in.
        Either way good to know of them for younger readers. And you must read MMU!!

        Liked by 1 person

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