The Invisible Detective
Shadow Beast

Author: Justin Richards
Pocket Books
RRP 5.99

ISBN 0 7434 46146 0
Available now

London, 1936: The Invisible Detective can solve any mystery great or small - but no one's ever seen his face. Truth is, the detective is the creation of four incredible kids who combat crime in his name...

How can a daring bank robbery be linked to a missing cat? Why are the local rats attacking people? What is lurking down the sewers? These are all questions raised in Shadow Beast and only the Invisible Detective can learn the answers as the kids hunt for robbers - and track down a monster. But there are monsters loose in the present as well as the past.

I was a little surprised to see that Justin Richards was the author of this book. Richards is well known for his unnecessarily complex story telling in the BBC Doctor Who series, so I was hoping that he would go a little easier while working on a children's story.

I was wrong. While this book is well written, it is not easy to follow. Possibly the biggest complaint is that the chopping and changing of events in the narrative, from past to present and back again, are just too much to take in places. I felt like I was unsure of what time I was in on more than one occasion. Another problem is the fact that there are too many Arthur's and calling one Art and the other Arthur doesn't help to separate the two characters enough.

Sadly, only the most determined reader will make it to the end. I say sadly, because although this is like wadding through treacle, it is actually worth it in the end. It really is a hard story to get into, and it is not until around half way through that you really start to see everything coming together.

By the final quarter of the book you'll be hooked, but how many people will make it that far?

Heather Simpson

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