The Midnight Peacock by Katherine Woodfine

The Blurb On The Back:

You are cordially invited to Sinclair’s Midnight Peacock Ball!

The festive season has come to Sinclair’s and Sophie and Lil are spending the holidays at snowy Winter Hall.  As sinister secrets come to light, our intrepid heroines find themselves faced with a more baffling mystery than ever before!

With the help of their friends, can they uncover the truth in time to foil a truly diabolical plot?  Or will Mr Sinclair’s Midnight Peacock Ball spell disaster on New Year’s Eve for the dauntless young detectives?

Prepare for the thrilling conclusion to the Sinclair’s Mysteries!

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

London, December 1909.  It’s several months after THE PAINTED DRAGON.  Sophie barely escaped her last encounter with the Baron and ever since the no one’s seen him but with his identity revealed and his criminal gang broken, the police are confident it’s only a matter of time before they capture him.

Meanwhile Sophie and Lil are working together at the Taylor & Rose detective agency and have already picked up a number of cases and Sinclair’s is preparing for a New Year’s Eve ball extravaganza where Monsieur Chevalier will be launching a new Midnight Peacock perfume and even the king and queen are expected to attend.

While the Sinclair’s staff busy themselves with getting the store ready, Leo invites Sophie and Lil to spend Christmas with her family and their friends.  There, Leo’s maid Tilly reveals that there have been strange goings on in the East Wing – doings that need to be investigated …

The concluding novel in Katherine Woodfine’s mystery series for children aged 9+ is a tightly plotted, enjoyable read that wraps up all of the relevant series arc storylines without descending into mawkish sentimentality, gives a good sense of period and leaves open the possibility of a prequel series (which I’d definitely read).

I hadn’t read the preceding three books in this quartet but you don’t need to in order to follow this story as Woodfine sets out enough information about what happened in the earlier books to be able to understand what’s happened.  (I’d actually picked this book up because I’d read MYSTERY & MAYHEM – a short story anthology edited by Woodfine where she’d included a short story set in the SINCLAIR’S MYSTERIES world that I’d really enjoyed).

I really enjoyed the friendships at the heart of the story – Sophie and Lil work well as a team and I enjoyed the contribution from the boys Billy and Joe who have an important plot line of their own, while Mei, Song, Tilly and Leo bring some good diversity to the story.  The mystery itself is well paced and has a lot of twists and turns to keep you guessing (especially the introduction of doubts about Mr Sinclair and his own motives).  The Baron is a chilling antagonist – slightly two-dimensional at times and with a penchant for complicated plans – but I believed in his desire to win and enjoyed his taunting of Sophie.

There’s a good sense of period here with Woodfine picking up on the real paranoia about Germany but also the sense of potential – and I particularly enjoyed the way she draws in the Suffragettes.

The ending ties up the various plot strands together but not in a sentimental way, which I thought was neatly done.  There’s also a potential for a prequel, which I would definitely check out on the strength of this book and even if there isn’t, I’d still check out what Woodfine writes next.

THE MIDNIGHT PEACOCK was released in the United Kingdom on 5th October 2017.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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