Publication date: 5 March 2020
In The Highland Falcon Thief: Adventures on Trains #1, a middle-grade series starter from MG Leonard and Sam Sedgman, a young boy is swept up in an investigation to uncover the perpetrator of a jewel theft.
When eleven-year-old Harrison “Hal” Beck is forced to accompany his travel-writer uncle on the last journey of a royal train, he expects a boring trip spent away from video games and children his age.
But then Hal spots a girl who should not be on board, and he quickly makes friends with the stowaway, Lenny. Things get even more interesting when the royal prince and princess board for the last leg of the journey—because the princess’s diamond necklace is soon stolen and replaced with a fake! Suspicion falls on the one person who isn’t supposed to be there: Lenny.
It’s up to Hal, his keen observation, and his skill as a budding sketch artist to uncover the real jewel thief, clear his friend’s name, and return the diamond necklace before The Highland Falcon makes its last stop.
I’m going to sit here and ponder over the cleverness of the power duo Harrison Beck and Marlene Singh, the Sherlock and Nancy Drews of their book.
The Highland Falcon Thief is the first book in the series of stories that will take place on trains called “Adventures on Trains” by M.G Leonard and Sam Sedgman. The story takes place on the last journey of the Royal Highland Falcon locomotive train. Hal is sent away from home to his Uncle Nat for four days because his mother is giving birth to a baby sister. His Uncle Nat is a journalist and an author of famous books about trains and a devoted lover of locomotives. Because of that, they have the esteemed privilege of being guests on the Royal Train. However, on their route to Scotland, a jewel goes missing followed by several other cases of stolen jewels.
Hal thought he was the only child on board the train until he meets sneaky Lenny hidden onboard, thinking that she may be a misguided child looking for mischieve, he seeks her out to convince her to return the stolen jewels. Upon confronting the little stowaway, he finds out that she is not the culprit. Together with Hal’s artistic mind and observative eyes and Lenny’s knowledge of the train inside and out, they put their brains to work to solve this horrendous crime before they reach the last station and everything blows up like steam from the train’s funnel.
This book is a middle-grade book that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. I think children will particularly enjoy this mystery book when their parents read it with them as they can put their brains together to solve the crime like detectives. It is also a greatly informative book about trains so readers can learn about how this locomotive works. One of my favourite scenes is when Lenny brought Hal to meet her father, Mohanjit Singh, the engine driver of The Highland Falcon and Toey Bray, the fireman. The authors paint us a breathtaking picture of how a locomotive take on water to steam the vehicle.
One thing that irks me is the character representation in the book. As a people of colour myself, I find it annoying that our diligent Lenny who is clearly an Indian based on the drawings in the book and her last name has zero ties to her heritage. It’s like she’s simply there to say “Hello! I’m a brown character in an English book!”. It would have added to the excitement to know what it felt like to be an English-Indian living in the UK and many other English-Indian children would be able to relate.
Thank you very much to @definitely.books for the ARC, I hope you will check it out when it hits bookshelves on 5th March 2020. #pansing