Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Mysteries of Maisie Hitchins, Book 5 - The Case of the Secret Tunnel

Everyone's favorite little detective-wannabe is back in her fifth book - The Case of the Secret Tunnel.  And, as with the four prior books, it's another romp of fun and a devilish good mystery that only author Holly Webb can dish out.

Maisie's favorite boarder at her grandmother's boarding house on Albion Street is moving out - Madame Lorimer is getting married and moving away!  That means it's time to find a new boarder, and when Fred Grange, the rather boring employee of the local biscuit company, moves in, Maisie wonders if she will die of boredom.  There is absolutely nothing at all exciting about him - he simply works, eats, and sleeps.  Her best friend Alice gets a new governess, but even she turns out to be thoroughly nice and trustworthy.

What's a detective to do when there's no mystery to solve?  Well, Maisie takes what she can get, so when she finds a grayish-white woolen flannel on the clothes line, where some rather unmentionable women's undergarments should have been, Maisie figures she may as well figure out what's going on.  Particularly when she learns that their neighbor has suffered the same fate - articles of women's clothing taken from the lines, only to be replaced with woolen flannel (only in her case, the flannel was red instead of white).

Of course, anyone who is familiar with mysteries at all knows that even the smallest thing (such as switched laundry) can lead to a bigger mystery - and boy, does this one ever!  Rare art is being stolen throughout London, right under the noses of security guards and police, and no one can figure out how.  They know Charlie Sparrow and his Sparrow Gang are behind the thefts, but they have been unable to capture them.  Maisie wishes she could solve such a crime, but she has no way to involve herself in it, so she sticks with the case of the switched laundry.

Until her trip on the underground train leads her to witness a frail woman stop the train when she nearly faints...

Until she meets the brother of Charlie Sparrow, who works at the train station and who also happens to be a boarder at her neighbor's house...

Until she witnesses Fred Grange not at work during the day and discovers that he knows nothing at all about biscuits - which is very odd, considering he works at a biscuit company...

Maisie Hitchins suddenly finds herself right in the midst of the very criminal investigation she thought she'd never get to be a part of - and ultimately finds herself trapped in the middle of the night in a closed subway station.  Naturally, she doesn't take that sitting down and begins looking for a way out, only to find herself face-to-face with one of the Sparrow Gang who doesn't take to kindly to snoops!

Webb weaves another great mystery, and while those familiar with mystery storytelling will catch on pretty quick to what's going on, this is definitely another twisting tale that will enthrall the young readers.  No sign of the sixth book and beyond listed here in America yet, but the author's website shows there are eight books in the series, so that means there are three left yet to come out here!

RATING:  9 old stone drinking fountains out of 10 for making the mystery intricate, yet not overly difficult, and keeping the characters alive and fun to read.

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