20 Books of Summer: Book 9

Published by Macmillan Children’s Books
Published on 30th January 2020
Illustrated by Elisa Paganelli

That was cool!  I really, really enjoyed this clever, old-style mystery which kept me utterly entranced throughout as I fell in love with The Highland Falcon, and was completely absorbed by the intriguing mystery unfolding on board. 

Harrison (Hal) Beck is reluctantly joining his travel-writer uncle, Nat aboard the royal steam train, The Highland Falcon for its final journey.  Any boredom he might have felt is soon forgotten as a diamond-encrusted brooch goes missing.

Together with his new friend, Lenny, they decide to undertake their own sleuthing to track down the real jewellery thief who they nickname ‘The Magpie’.  This is a very clever mystery with clues tantalisingly sprinkled, potential culprits identified and eliminated, red herrings and further crimes committed … I really enjoyed trying to piece together the clues to solve the mystery. 

I really liked the pacing which has the perfect balance of slower paced exploration and fast-paced, exciting discoveries, allowing me to become absorbed in the story-telling and the adventure aboard the train.

Hal is a really talented sketch artist, and I loved how his sketches are not only incorporated into the plot, but also shown through the gorgeously detailed illustrations by Elisa Paganelli which really bring the characters and events aboard the train to life.

I can’t say I’m a train enthusiast, but I must admit that I was drawn into the wonder of this royal train as I learned so much about how it operates and its history.  I can totally believe how Hal quickly comes to appreciate and love this train. And now I really want to travel on an old steam train.

The relationship between Hal and Uncle Nat is just perfect, and Nat makes a great role model for his young nephew!  Nat’s enthusiasm and knowledge of trains shines through and I can imagine how this would make Hal view trains in a whole new light.  Nat is kind, supportive and encouraging towards Hal.   He is a protective uncle who defends Hal and allows him to follow his instincts.  He has faith in his nephew and trusts him with the choices he makes.  I also really enjoyed the friendship between Hal and Lenny as they work as a team to solve the mystery, supporting and looking out for each other. 

The Highland Falcon Thief is a brilliantly clever, exciting, old-fashioned mystery that kept me guessing to the end:  a thoroughly enjoyable read!

4 thoughts on “20 Books of Summer: Book 9

  1. It’s amazing how fascinating and appealing trains suddenly become reading this isn’t it?! I was exactly the same – zero interest in trains at the start, wanted to go on a steam train immediately after finishing!

    Liked by 1 person

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