October 12, 2016

Clever criminals, beware!

The Case of the Missing Moonstone (The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency, Book 1)
by Jordan Stratford
art by Kelly Murphy

Stratford imagines an alternate reality set in London in 1826 - an age of invention (think electric batteries and steam-powered boats) - with real historical figures and places. In his fanciful novel, eleven-year-old Ada Byron and fourteen-year-old Mary Godwin, team up to form a clandestine detective agency in order to capture clever criminals. They are aided in their quest by a boy named Charles, a tutor named Percy (whom Ada dubs "Peebs"), and a silent butler named Franklin.

Ada, who as Ada Lovelace, became the world's first computer programmer, is the daughter of poet Lord Byron. Percy, aka Peebs, is poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Mary Godwin grows up to become Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein. And Charles is author Charles Dickens. Together, they manage to solve a missing necklace case, complete with dishonest crooks, a gloomy prison, and exciting chases, including one by hot-air balloon. 

Ada and Mary make an appealing team, reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes and Watson. They're smart, funny, adventurous, and, in Ada's case, eccentric, and they encourage girls to study math and science.

Two more detectives join up in the closing pages - Ada and Mary's sisters Allegra and Jane. To see what they get up to, read The Case of the Girl in Grey (Book 2) and The Case of the Counterfeit Criminals (Book 3).

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