Illustrated by Elisa Paganelli.
Published by Macmillan Children’s Books, 2020.
The Highland Falcon Thief is the first book in a new mystery series entitled Adventures on Trains. 11-year-old Harrison (Hal) Beck joins his journalist uncle onboard the royal steam train, the Highland Falcon, for its final journey. Although Hal is not particularly enthusiastic about the trip to begin with, he soon makes friends with Lenny – the driver’s daughter – and she introduces him to the wonders of travel by steam train.
When several passengers’ expensive jewels start going missing, Hal and Lenny team up to solve the case. The amateur detectives search for clues and soon identify a key suspect from the cast of high-profile passengers. The Highland Falcon Thief has got all the ingredients of a classic mystery story: stolen jewels, secret notes, clues, false leads, suspense and intrigue. Not forgetting the setting of course; a crime onboard a classic steam train is pure Agatha Christie!
Elisa Paganelli’s black and white pencil illustrations are terrific; they really bring the characters and the train alive.
I loved how there’s so much attention to detail. The train route described in the book is a real one, and the details of the train’s appearance and layout are realistic and authentic. These detailed descriptions of the train, combined with the illustrations, really help you understand the workings of magnificent steam trains such as this. As you read, you can very easily imagine what it would have been like on board.
I highly recommend The Highland Falcon Thief. The authors’ passion for train travel and beautiful historic trains is evident and I felt myself swept along with all the magic and romance of travel by steam train. I certainly enjoyed trying to work out whodunnit and I know children will love playing detective – spotting clues, solving puzzles and narrowing down the suspects.
Suitable for children aged 8+
Thank you to Macmillan Children’s Books for sending me this book to review.