Monday, November 16, 2015

Book Review: Frankie Dupont and the Lemon Festival Fiasco

Frankie Dupont, boy detective extraordinaire (aged 10 and 3/4) is back in his second adventure, accompanied by his faithful ex-sniffer hound Sherlock (the subject of a class ‘show and tell’) and his cousin Kat. In this adventure, the mystery starts off when he attends a combined class at school, taken by Mr. Mulberry (Mr. M) and assisted by Miss Chestnut. Miss Chestnut has very kindly brought along a fresh baked pie with zesty lemon filling. It smells utterly delicious. Mr. M is invited to taste first, but the results are horrendous, with Mr. M being taken terribly ill after just one mouthful, and Sherlock acting very strange after sniffing the pie, which ended up all over the floor. Once Frankie is told to take Sherlock home, he grabs the opportunity to test some of the pie filling, which landed on Sherlock’s coat, using his special catalysing agent from his evidence sampler kit. The results are very scary. Who has tried to poison Mr. Mulberry? Was it Miss Chestnut because she wanted to be in charge and not just assist? How will Frankie question a suspect who is a teacher?

Frankie hasn’t got time to do much more because the class goes off to Enderby Manor to help pick lemons for the lemon festival the next day. Enderby Manor has a slightly sinister past and that’s the reason Frankie feels a bit uneasy. The problem with sinister pasts is that some bits of it might come back… Given that several characters from Frankie’s first adventure are still resident at Enderby Manor, Frankie thinks his gut instincts are right. Even more so since Miss Mercure, previously the hotel receptionist but now occupying a higher position, is there, as snarky as ever, and has taken charge. Even more worrying is the fact that once the lemons are picked for the festival, no one is allowed back into the orchard. There’s something very strange going on to do with the past ownership of Enderby Manor and Frankie is determined to find out what it is!

Frankie is an endearing character and will truly win young fans who are interested in mysteries, detective work, gadgets, and a bit of science thrown in. And yes, the Fingerprint Diagnostic Device makes another appearance! Readers who began with Book One: Frankie Dupont and the Mystery at Enderby Manor will love seeing familiar faces from Frankie’s first mystery such as chef Simon Le Mont with sous-chef parrot Ingrid (who looks just like her predecessor Igor and with the same kind of vocabulary!) and of course stalwart garden gnome Gerome who does his bit as well. The pace is fast, the action is non stop, and the clues come thick and fast as Frankie and Kat have to race against time to save Enderby Manor from unscrupulous developers.

I enjoyed the age appropriate language and style, which make Frankie and his friends really believable. Kids are encouraged to think for themselves and to work things out, based on information they find. I also enjoyed Frankie’s Mum who is quite a character, albeit in brief cameos. This is such a fun series that gets kids involved in both adventure and science, making facts fun and entertaining. Once again the black and white illustrations add to the mayhem and help create the scenes for budding young detectives. New characters move the series forward for more adventures but I’d advise young readers to start with Book One to really help cement the back history of the series and add to an enjoyable read.

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