The Highland Falcon Thief – M. G. Leonard & Sam Sedgman

Illustrated by Elisa Paganelli

Stars: *****

Harrison Beck is not particularly pleased at the thought of spending time with his Uncle Nat on the Highland Falcon while his parents prepare for their new arrival. Initially, he doesn’t see what all the fuss is about – stuck on an old train with only a bunch of adults for company. What’s so special about that? It’s a good thing he took his sketchbook – at least he’ll have lots of time to draw during the journey.

Soon, Hal begins to see why his Uncle Nat is such a train enthusiast. He begins to enjoy the journey; spending time in the engine cab, getting to rub shoulders with royalty; even making a new friend, Lenny. But then a crime happens, putting stop to their fun. And not just any crime: the princess’ necklace has been stolen, with one of the most precious diamonds in the world set into it.

Lenny and Hal find themselves in the centre of the investigation. Hal has drawings of the suspects and crime scene, while Lenny has been carefully watching the passengers from her hiding spaces. Can they solve the crime? Or will they all reach their final destination with the suspect still on the loose…

I thoroughly enjoyed this mysterious crime story, which was full of adventure and intrigue. The background settings while the Highland Falcon travelled through the British countryside were easy to envisage and made me wish I could do a train journey around Britain myself!

Hal and Lenny make brilliant lead characters; their personalities equally complement and challenge each other to create an interesting dynamic. Lenny is fearless and feisty, allowing Hal to push himself. Hal is more calm and measured, encouraging Lenny to think about evidence they already have.

The illustrations throughout the book were amazing, really enhancing the story by showing us the passengers through Hal’s eyes. The sketch style illustrations were beautifully done, showing the story from Hal’s perspective and giving us even more insight into him as a person. It allowed all the characters to become ‘real’ and helped us see what they might be like.

This is a BRILLIANT adventure tale that everyone would love!

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