For #Recommendsday this week I wanted to talk about the Sinclair Mysteries – as the final book in the series is out tomorrow (October 5). Regular readers will be well aware of my love of detective fiction and middle grade novels and Katherine Woodfine’s Sinclair mysteries are a great meeting of the two.
In the first book in the series, we meet Sophie and Lily – newly employed to work in Sinclair’s department store which is the biggest thing to happen in Edwardian London since, well, a long time. Sophie’s father has recently died and she’s having to find her own way in the world. Lily works in the shop by day and is trying to break through onto the stage at night. Over the course of the books they gather a gang together and solve crimes, with department store owner Mr Sinclair (think Mr Selfridge) always hovering somewhere in the background. Starting with the theft of the titular Clockwork Sparrow and moving on to things more dastardly and complicatated. There is a big bad here, although I can’t say too much about that without giving far to much away. Suffice it to say that although you can read this on their own, they work best as a series, building to a wonderful climax that pulls all the threads from the previous books together and ties them into a nice neat bow.
If you grew up on a diet of Enid Blyton and Nancy Drew, then these books may well be for you. Or for your children if you have them. I’ve lent (given?) my copy of the first one to Eldest Niece who has been tearing her way through the Famous Five and Secret Seven. I came to these after reading the first Wells and Wong book – and needing more middle grade mystery in my life and they filled that gap admirably. I’m sad that the series over – but really looking forward to seeing whatever Katherine Woodfine does next.
You should be able to find these in any bookstore that has a good children’s department, as well as in supermarkets – I got my copy of the first book from Tesco (although I got books 2 and 4 from NetGalley) and I can’t remember where I bought book three. Anyway, read them in order wherever you buy them from.