Review: Kat Wolfe Takes the Case by Lauren St John

There are so many things to love about this book that I hardly know where to begin! It is an outstanding piece of storytelling which I unhesitatingly recommend to all readers of 8+.

It is the second in the series featuring the “Wolfe and Lamb Detective Agency” comprising Kat Wolfe, who has extraordinary gifts with animals of every kind and her best friend Harper Lamb, a genius with languages and computers, with an impressive knowledge of dinosaurs thanks to her palaeontologist father. On one level it is a pacy, MG mystery with the young detectives, Kat and Harper, trying to discover who was responsible for the death of an amateur fossil-collector at the foot of the cliffs in picturesque Bluebell Bay. However, the author, Lauren St John, has seamlessly woven other important themes through this story; extinction, environmental concerns, unscrupulous profiteers and the importance of not judging people based on appearances. I was swept along by the gripping narrative, clever characterisation and along the way learned a great deal about conservation and palaeontology.

If you like complex plots with multiple riddles to solve, this book will not disappoint! At one stage the two young detectives calculate that they have eleven mini-mysteries to solve, ranging from the reason that a glamourous Hollywood couple have decided to vacation on the Jurassic Coast to the identity of the ruthless members of the Order of Dragons. At one point in the story we are given a fabulous lesson on  the interdependence of species in the food web, reflecting this, the detective agency relies on teamwork between humans and animals to unravel the tangled web of clues and crack the case. One of my favourite characters is Edith Chalmers the retired librarian whose encyclopedic knowledge has taught her “a thing or two about unravelling mysteries”!

I was constantly in awe at the way Lauren St John’s love of animals and nature shone through her writing, from similes such as a car “glistening like a forest in winter” to Kat’s changing attitude to the film star couple when she realises that they have crocodile-hide and leopard-skin accessories. I was not a surprise to find the author’s note at the end of the book, encouraging children to do whatever they can to protect the environment. Above all, I think that this confirms “Kat Wolfe Takes the Case” as a hopeful book, which recognises that our smart, wonderful children have the ability to change the world for the better. Finally I must mention the glorious cover art and black and white illustrations throughout the book by Daniel Deamo which contribute to the overall enjoyment of this reading adventure. I love books which entertain and educate simultaneously and I think that this one will be hugely popular with children of 8+ and any adults lucky enough to read with them.

Thank you Toppsta and Macmillan Children’s Books for sending me this book to review – I will be adding it to the school library tomorrow and recommending it highly.

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