Book review: The Case of the Counterfeit Criminals, by Jordan Stratford, art by Kelly Murphy

Stratford, Jordan. The Case of the Counterfeit Criminals. (The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency, No. 3) Ill. Kelly Murphy. Knopf, 2017. $16.99. 193p. ISBN 978-0-385-75448-4. Ages 9-12. P8Q8  

stratford-counterfeit-criminalsLord Byron’s daughter Ada Lovelace and Percy Bysshe Shelley’s future wife, Mary, reappear in the third installment of this series, joined by another historical figure, dinosaur fossil hunter Mary Anning. Although the people are real, their ages have been changed and their activities purely fictional as the two self-appointed detectives set out to solve the mystery of Anning’s missing dog. They discover that Anning is being blackmailed, but their task is made more difficult by the unexpected appearance of Ada’s grandmother who demands that Ada stay in bed to get well. Very nice pieces from the early 19th-century setting such as Ada’s being subjected to bleeding by leeches and the restrictions on women’s activities at that time. The plot is fun with abounding wit, and the protagonists clever in their critical analysis of situations. The relationship between Ada and Mary grows as they develop even more trust in each other. A great mystery addition to juvenile literature.

January 2017 review by Nel Ward.

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