The Case of the Smuggler’s Curse by Mark Dawson

Synopsis:

One winter’s night, best friends Lucy and Max are walking home
when they meet Joe, a new boy at their school. Desperate to make
some friends, he follows them, offering sausage rolls – which to
his delight attract the attention of Sherlock the dog and his furious
owner, Charlie, who is not so impressed!
Together on Southwold beach, they spot a strange and mysterious
figure standing on the sea wall, waving a lantern. Could he be a
wrecker? A phantom smuggler? The children are intrigued.
They set out to try and find out more about the local history, and
who the stranger could be – but soon find themselves caught up
with a ruthless and dangerous gang of smugglers!
Motorboats and tracking devices, bedroom breakouts and daring
sea rescues are all in a day’s work for The After-School Detective
Club – but after their investigations lead them into serious trouble
with the police, will they be able to stop the smugglers. . .
before it’s too late?

My Review:

A mystery set in Southwold led by children and an adorable dog named Sherlock.  It was just what I needed to read this January.

Diving straight in, I had to save a few chapters for the next day as It was too good to let end.

Joe has moved to Southwold and is rather neglected by his family and has yet to make friends.  Planning to run away, he meets Lucy and Max along the beach front and they happen upon Sherlock and Charlie.  Formed together, they all witness a strange spectre holding a lantern on the rocks. A dangerous encounter ensues and the start of the mystery and meeting of “the after school detective club”.

Their friendship is slow to truly take off and they each bring their own issues and familial problems to the group but there is something holding them together. These characters are so real and credible, likely we will recognise aspects of ourselves or children in them. I love that this is reminiscent of The Famous Five but the modern and up to date versions!

Joe is clearly the lead behind their first investigation but Max knows technology, Lucy is quick, Charlie is fearless, and Sherlock has great instincts! They already have the best strengths pulling them together and giving them an edge on solving a huge mystery!

I loved this book- the characters have so much to give and I can tell there is much more to come from this gang. I love the setting of Southwold, knowing the town well enough to imagine the scenes in the story.

The illustrations by Ben Mantle are superb and really add brilliance to the story!

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