Wednesday 25 March 2020

Anisha, Accidental Detective by Serena Patel (Illustrated by Kate McCann)

Link to Usbourne site

Published: 2020, Usbourne


What I needed this weekend, as no doubt we all did, was a dazzling ray-of-sunshine book that would pierce the dark cloud of gloom gathering in the outside world.
What better book to choose than Serena Patel's debut YMG novel, Anisha, Accidental Detective - a mystery story filled with family chaos and funny, vibrant characters.
With a family wedding in full flow, quiet, scientific Anisha hopes that things will soon return to normal. But when she discovers that the groom has been kidnapped she has no choice but to solve the case before her Aunt finds out.
With the clock ticking and a whole list of suspicious suspects, Anisha enlists the help of her best friend, Milo. Milo may be more interested in saving lobsters than finding Uncle Tony but he's not about to let his friend down. Can the pair of them save the big day?
Serena has hit on a winning plot by combining a good old mystery with very relatable family dynamics. Okay, so not many grooms get kidnapped the day before the wedding but being part of a big, soon to be blended family has its issues. Serena deals with these beautifully, whilst keeping the mystery and intrigue the main priority.
The story moves at a fast pace but is kept light-hearted through delightful characters (Granny Jas, Aunty Bindi and Mustaf), firm friendship (Anisha and Milo) and the rather out-of-place pet (Larry the lobster). I loved how the main characters moved around the local town; from the house to the garden to the school and the theme park. This stopped any part of it from feeling static or from losing momentum and also kept me guessing. The illustrations by Kate McCann were completely charming (I particularly loved the wedding scene) and the mathematical equations were unique and great fun.
Ultimately though, I think the way Serena unpicks the tricky relationships in this book makes the tale shine. The tone is warm and caring and reminds us that individual hearts can be full of complex and varied emotions that need to be understood rather than condemned. The feistiness and joy of Granny Jas mixes humorously with the dramatics of Aunty Bindi and offsets the calmness of Anisha. Milo's love of animals is endearing and Mustaf is a wonderful gentle giant.
Overall, this is a nifty little mystery full of fantastic characters and rich in culture. It was absorbing and delightful to read and I can't believe I have to wait six months for a sequel!

Anisha, Accidental Detective: School's Cancelled is out in the summer.

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