Friday Barnes, Girl Detective
Friday Barnes, Girl Detective by R.A. Spratt is an amusing blend of boarding school antics and mystery-solving. Friday, as the overlooked daughter of supersmart academics having to find her own way, reminded me a bit of Meg, from A Wrinkle in Time. Only instead of science fiction, this series is based in detection, starring a pint-size Sherlock.
Friday “largely raised herself” and “found it was best to go unnoticed as much as possible.” She reads widely, including detective fiction, and is incredibly observant, but has no social skills. (She’s still more practical than her unworldly parents.) She embarks on her career by helping her Uncle Bernie, an insurance investigator, find a diamond stolen in a bank robbery. The resulting reward allows her to send herself to an upscale residential academy.
There’s a charming roommate, Melanie, who seems spacey but understands people the way Friday understands carpet fiber patterns. There’s also a rumor of a Swamp Yeti in the watershed behind the school for the pair to figure out. Friday manages to help find missing homework assignments, proves a fancy presentation a fraud, and learns which questions are rhetorical.
The writing is snappy and moves quickly with plenty of exciting events and humor. Phil Gosier provides cute spot drawings of Friday and her friends, sprinkled through the text.
I didn’t want to leave Friday on her own; I wish I could have spent more time with her. The Friday Barnes series launched in Australia, where it’s up to four books, and the second, Friday Barnes Under Suspicion, is due out here August 2016. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)