Top critical review
Enjoyable detective story for KS2 readers
on 9 June 2017
3.5 stars - lost some for the audio narration
Firstly, I'll say that I really disliked the narrative voices for this, the 13 year old Ruby sounds like a jaded barroom femme fatale chain smoker from a 1940s film noir. She drawls, she wisecracks and it just didn't suit the age of the character at all. And this was similar for other voices, loves of throaty and stereotyped voice styles that annoyed me throughout. It would have worked better on paper for me.
The story and characters, however, are good - a prodigy of an intellect, Ruby is a natural crime solver, and the chance to use her skills arises when a crime-fighting agency ask her to assist them with a mundane task... one that leads her deeper than they had planned. With a sidekick of a best friend, and a butler who is more than he seems, Ruby engrains herself as a character that will return for more similar plots in a series.
There are lots of mini adventures, with many Bond-like similarities and familiar devices/twists/characters you'd expect to see in a spy thriller - secret gadgets, clues, dastardly plots, wisecracks, deadly peril, but for the target demographic, it's a refreshing spin on the Alex Rider genre.
Wish I'd read it on paper, but it is the first in a fun series that KS2/3 readers will race through, and just this week, the author has become the new Children's Laureate, so maybe that will give a boost to the series and get it made for TV/into a film.