Thursday, August 05, 2010

Dead Man's Cove by Lauren St John


When orphaned Laura Marlin moves from a children's home to live with her uncle in Cornwall, she longs for a life of excitement just like the characters in her favourite detective novels.

A real life adventure is on hand as she is deposited at her uncle's spooky house . . . Why does her uncle, Calvin Redfern, forbid her to go to Dead Man's Cove? What's the truth about Tariq, the silent Indian boy who lives with the flamboyant Mukthars? Who is J? Who has left the message in a bottle for Laura to discover? Mysteries abound and who better to solve them than Laura Marlin, ace detective?

Accompanied by her trusty companion, Skye, a three-legged husky, the dog she's always wanted, Laura's adventures begin.

This is my first Lauren St John book. It won't be my last by any means.

Meeting Laura in Dead Man's Cove has shown me what a skilled writer can do with voice and character but also setting. Within the first few pages of picking this up, I was smitten. I wanted to run off and join Laura in St Ives on her adventure. Here is a heroine I wanted to be friends with. Funny, clever and brave, she shines like a shiny thing as she carefully feels her way through her new relationship with an uncle she never knew she had, deals with a very miserable and nasty housekeeper who seems set on making her life hell and with her budding friendship with the mysterious Tariq.

I loved everything about this book. The writing is excellent, the story is clever and full of twisty turns, our main character is charming and likable and the supporting cast of characters are more than just walk-ons.

I especially liked Laura's new uncle Calvin. Here is a man who gives Laura a vast amount of freedom and he trusts her implicitly. He doesn't know her from Adam yet he is prepared to trust her to be a stand-up kind of person. And his trust is not misplaced. Laura revels in being allowed to roam free around St Ives. She grew up in foster care and in a Home and everything was determined by rules. Now that she has no rules imposed on her, she feels like she can breathe, she can be her true self.

Deeply immersed in her reading of mysteries and thrillers, Laura loves the excitement of moving to St Ives, after she gets over the initial shock of the dark gloomy house she has to stay in. She sees mystery everywhere and wonders mainly about her uncle. He works odd hours and is hardly at home, but when they do have a chance to spend time together he is caring and lovely and treats her as an important someone in his life.

Then there is the mystery of Tariq - the son of the local shop-owners the impossibly glamorous Mukthars. He has no freedom and has to work all day in the shop. He speaks no English so Laura holds a lot of one-sided conversations with him. As their friendship grows, Laura realises that there is definitely something going on with Tariq and his "parents". Then she notices the bruises, that he looks really rough, like he's not slept for days.

As the author unfolds the story, we realise exactly how much danger Laura is in. On the surface Dead Man's Cove appears a nostalgic look at the innocence of childhood of a long ago time, but as we read further, we are transported to the here and the now and immersed in a world of crime and danger.

It is clever writing. Lauren St John is definitely - in my opinion - a master storyteller, keeping plot and pace steady, letting us run with Laura as she makes her discoveries. Her realisation that the situation she finds herself in is not just a small time mystery but something altogether bigger and that she needs to be brave and clever to see it through - well, pure magic.

I read the article Lauren St John wrote for the Waterstone's Books Quarterly magazine and I went home, picked up my copy of Dead Man's Cove and read it from cover to cover in a day during commuting and lunch the following day. Here is something special for both girls and boys to read. It has enough mystery and excitement to keep everyone entertained. Laura Marlin is a fantastic creation, irrepressible, gutsy, clever and very likable and I am very pleased to have met her and I look forward to her other adventures.

Dead Man's Cove is out today - hurrah - so make sure you head off as soon as possible to pick up a copy of this brand new series. Find Lauren's author website here.
Edited to add: COMPETITION TIME!
Just heard from the awesome Nina at Orion Kids that she's letting MFB have a signed copy of Dead Man's Cove by Lauren St John to give away. So, to enter: comment below on your favourite holiday place to visit, be it UK or abroad, and why you love it there. The only rule is: UK entrants only, please! Entries close on 12th August. Get replying!


Pagecrawler said...

Great give away - looks like a great book My favourite holiday destination is Brighton I don't know why it just feels like home (maybe I lived there in a previous life)

CazApr1 said...

I have two favourite places - depending on budget and time - Yosemite National Park in California is my favourite place in the whole wide world (that I've been so far...) but on a more local scale I love visiting my Dad in North Devon coz I don't have to be a grownup for a weekend - I get fed a lot of tasty stuff and can sit and read for hours and hours in his garden!

Simon said...

My fave place worldwide is Toronto, beautiful place full of life. :) Nearer to home i had a couple of days in Edinburgh recently and would love to go back again.

Tina said...

OMG, I LOVE Lauren's South African series (White Giraffe is the first one). She has a new book out? Yay!

My favourite place for a visit was Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska. You van walk right up to a glacier and this was the first time I saw a Moose and a black bear. One of the hiking trails leads up to the icefield and the scenery is amazing.

emily13 said...

My favourite place is Bamburgh beach in Northumberland. I have happy childhood memories of it, it was quiet and felt like our own private beach, whether sunny or windy it is always beautiful and unspoilt, and the sand dunes are fabulous! As much as I love lazing on beaches in exotic countries, you sometimes can't beat a British beach for a bracing walk and sheer beauty.

Anonymous said...

Dubai because it is just amazing there. Its so hot and just calm. I would love to go there again this year (fingers crossed) as it just feels like home ...