Review: Agent Zaiba Investigates The Poison Plot

What a wonderfully fun and engaging read for younger fans of mystery with plenty of action, clues to follow and supportive friendships.  I’m certainly looking forward to introducing my class to Zaiba and her friends, and think this is a perfect addition to any school library.

Zaiba is eager for the start of her school summer fete as she has been given the responsibility of organising a detective trail, and is hoping to find potential recruits for the newly formed UK branch of The Snow Leopard Detective Agency.  This is an agency run by her aunt Fouzia in Pakistan. 

There is only one thing better for Zaiba than running her own detective trail, and that is the discovery of a real-life crime.  She soon finds herself in the perfect position to investigate a crime when her new Headteacher, Mrs Goremain, is poisoned during the very competitive baking competition.   There are many suspects, but who is the culprit and what could the motive be? 

I loved how Zaiba and her friends used their sleuthing skills to follow clues and track down and eliminate suspects.  There is such a clever sprinkling of clues throughout for eager young mystery readers to follow their own trail towards discovering the guilty person. I can just imagine a younger me having my own detective journal and keeping a record of clues as I discover them as I read.  I can definitely see a class or group of friends planning their own detective trail using the handy advice at the end of the book.

A good detective was nothing without her friends and family.

Zaiba is a delightful young girl, and a fantastic role model:  confident in her detective capabilities, intelligent and quick-thinking and super motivated.  I really enjoyed her warm relationship with her family, immediate and extended, which is incredibly positive; their mutual pride in, and respect for, each other is wonderful.  Zaiba’s best friend Poppy and her brother Ali are also members of the Detective Agency, and I loved how all three worked together to track down clues and support each other.  Zaiba also welcomes her cousin Mariam into the group, but will Mariam welcome her friendship?

The full-page illustrations by Daniela Sosa are absolutely delightful and complement the story beautifully, and will be enjoyed by young readers.  There are also some great extras at the end of the book including an extract from Zaiba’s favourite author, Eden Lockett, Code Breakers and, my favourite, a recipe for Zaiba’s Dad, Hassan’s prize-winning Cardamom and Lemon Loaf Cake.  I’m not much of a baker, but I’m trying this!

This is a fast-paced, clever and super enjoyable mystery which is just perfect for younger readers who I have no doubt will enjoy following, and joining in, with the UK branch of The Snow Leopard Detective Agency’s latest case. 

Thank you to Charlie and Little Tiger for an early copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

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