Barnaby Grimes: Phantom of Blood Alley by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell (Daniel Fickling Books, 2010)

May 24, 2010 at 6:08 pm Leave a comment

Barnaby Grimes, a tick-tock lad, gets paid by delivering anything and everything anywhere in London as quickly as possible. Tick-tock lads save time by ‘highstacking’ or running over the city’s rooftops – a dangerous game. The adventure begins when Grimes is employed by Clarissa Oliphant, a fencing teacher, to follow her brother who is secretive and is behaving strangely. Indeed, Laurence Oliphant has developed a fascination for “painting with light” or what we today call photography and stealthily running out at night. Grimes observes Oliphant deliberately trip an old woman and steal an apple. Finally, Oliphant produces a key to let himself into a filthy hovel in the seediest part of town known as Blood Alley. A short time later Oliphant is found murdered by his sister’s sword. It is up to Barnaby to discover the real killer and free Clarissa. Barnaby is helped by a huge dog, the first skateboard ever invented, and his own considerable skills. This is a grand adventure tale that also manages to include the history of early photography.

J Fiction, Recommended—Lillian Hecker (PEL)

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