Good morning it is another MG Monday here on SWB and today I am so excited to be sharing my review of High Rise Mystery by Sharna Jackson. High Rise Mystery is the first in a brand-new series of mystery books aimed at middle graders set on an estate in London. And so, without further ado on to the review!
Title: High Rise Mystery
Author: Sharna Jackson
Publisher: Knights Of Media
Publication Date: 4th April 2019
About The Book…
The detective duo everyone is dying to meet!
Summer in London is hot, the hottest on record, and there’s been a murder in THE TRI: the high-rise home to resident know-it-alls, Nik and Norva. Who better to solve the case? Armed with curiosity, home-turf knowledge and unlimited time – until the end of the summer holidays anyway.
The first whodunnit in a new mystery series by Sharna Jackson.
11-year-old Nik and her 13-year-old sister Norva live on the try a series of three power books in London. When Hugo doesn’t appear for this week’s Art Club the girls decide to investigate his disappearance, and that smell that’s been getting worse from the bins isn’t just a coincidence…
I’ll be honest I’m not really sure there is anything in this book I didn’t enjoy so this may be a review filled with me just saying this was fantastic this was amazing this was brilliant but I’m going to do my best to actually make some coherent thoughts appear on your screen.
Before we even get to the main plot itself, I’m just going to briefly mention the structure of the book. I really enjoyed that along with the wonderfully written prose we got to see little bits of the Tri-Files, whether that was the girls To Do List, spreadsheets detailing possible suspects and alibis, or general notes and observation I really loved their inclusion.
I loved the mystery plot and following the girls as they tried to discover the truth about what happened to Hugo. I was almost as caught up in the mystery as them as it became much more personal for them as the story developed. High Rise Mystery is quite a chunky book to look at, but I found the plot fast moving, and I devoured it in relatively short period of time. That said the book is structured in such a way that a younger reader could easily manage a few chapters themselves each night or with a parent reading as a bedtime story.
I want to avoid any spoilers but what I will say is one of the things I really liked about High Rise Mystery was that a couple of the adults within the story did tell the girls they needed to stop investigating. I think it’s probably important to acknowledge that an 11 and a 13 year old investigating a murder is not a normal everyday occurrence but given their attachment to the victim and some later developments I think it’s understandable why they had such a determination to continue investigating even when it was a serious crime and not just somebody graffitiing down by the hub.
I loved the mix of characters is this book. Nik and Norva were two fantastic central characters, I loved the two different personalities that they had, whether it’s Nik’s more analytical, cautious, thought out approach or Norva’s more impulsive feeling-based approach. I think the mix of supporting characters created a rich and vibrant community to base the story in.
I think that it is really important that children no matter their background can see themselves in media, whether that is on TV, in films or in books like High Rise Mystery. I think as a mixed-race person I find this to be particularly important. I had quite a different upbringing to Nik and Norva, I grew up in Devon, a relatively rural part of the UK where multiculturalism wasn’t really that much of a thing in the 1990s. A larger city like Plymouth perhaps had little bit more of mix of cultures but the particular town I grew up in was very white. My dad was incredibly good about explaining aspects of my background and culture to me but to describe myself as being in a minority would probably be an understatement. I was such a novelty to all the little old ladies who loved to touch my curls. To put it into a little more perspective despite attending one of the biggest secondary schools in the country, during my time there you could probably count the number of non-British white students in the whole school on two hands and we had well over 2000 students in the school. I remember going to visit my grandma in Manchester when I was maybe 7 and 8 and visiting Toys R Us and being amazed that they had black Barbies, Christie was not a thing in my local toy shops! I couldn’t look around an see other people that looked like me so to have had that representation in some of the many books I devoured as a child would have been incredible. Whether it’s race, religion, gender, sexuality or disability, representation in mainstream media is so important to let children and young people know that that lives and experiences are real and are valid even if they are different to the majority of people around them.
What an absolutely wonderful book High Rise Mystery is! I found the writing and the plot to be fantastic and perhaps even more importantly I think it’s great that Books like this exist so that children and young people can see characters like them in fiction. I already own Mike drop so I’ll be getting to that shortly and I very much hope that that will not be the last high rise mystery that we get to solve together.
About The Author…
Sharna Jackson is an author and Artistic Director who specialises in developing and delivering socially-engaged digital initiatives for children and young people across culture, publishing and entertainment.
She is driven specifically to encourage and increase diverse and disengaged audiences’ participation in the arts locally, nationally, and globally.
Sharna has written three books, Tate Kids British Art Activity Book, Tate Kids Modern Art Activity Book and High Rise Mystery – the first in a middle-grade series featuring the sibling detective duo everyone’s dying to meet.
She is the Artistic Director at Site Gallery, Sheffield’s leading international contemporary art space, specialising in moving image, new media and performance.
She is on the board of Sheffield Doc/Fest and New Writing North in addition to being a member of BAFTA’s Children’s and Learning and New Talent committees and the Children’s Media Conference advisory board.
Sharna was born and raised in Luton and currently lives in Sheffield – and Rotterdam on a ship built in 1897.
Connect With Sharna
Want To Buy It?
As always if you’ve read the book let me know what you thought! If you’ve not read it yet will my review convince you to pick it up?