This tale of the dynamic detective duo Dirk Dilly and Holly published by Stripes is a freshen up for a new generation of The Case of the Missing Cats published by Bloomsbury in 2007 which originally was shortlisted for the Waterstones Book Prize at the time. This updated and new look edition takes into account the subtle changes to appeal to the young reader today and I have to say is a great decision because it is so much fun and definitely rides the dragon wave that has been building over the last year or so.
It’s also a great classic detective duo story evoking both classic film-noir and Fantasy themes with a child friendly twist, mystery and fantasy books are adored in this house and Dragon Detective is no exception bringing the two together in a playful way.
Dirk Dilly is a Mountain Dragon who happens to live and work as a Private Detective in London leaping rooftop to rooftop (who looks up in your average street in London?) to investigate his cases.
Holly is a young girl who has lost her cat and calls upon Dirk to investigate, which unlocks two things; a huge mystery of why Dragons are catnapping cats from all over London; and a reluctant (on Dirk’s part) partnership to uncover the truth, especially what is hiding under the Thames.
This book sets up the story for the next three books uncovering and fighting against a secret pact that threatens to collide the world of humans and dragons with devastating consequences.
He had been foolish letting the human tag along. She was already too involved. When he got back to the riverbank he would take her home. No more Mr Nice Dragon. Dirk worked alone.
Dirk Dilly (you have NO idea how easy it is to type other completely unrelated and very inappropriate character names there 😳) is so much fun particularly due to his grumpy jaded “I work better alone, kid’ detective persona. Knocking back the undiluted orange squash and being moody in a trench coat evokes a playful pastiche of classic film noir detectives.
Holly is pretty awesome, manipulator extreme! A bordering sociopathic ability to turn on the tears and nihilistic disregard for the rules, school and her step-mother’s political career she could have come across Manic Pixie Girlish if she wasn’t so darned clever and immediately inserts herself into the story in a meaningful way for Dirk AND her development and partnership which is brilliant to see girls like Holly who constantly surprise you but for her benefit or agenda not simply the Male protagonist’s development.
The pair go on this brilliant adventure uncovering the plot which sometimes feels like Alex Rider crossed with How to Train your Dragon and at other times has a feel of Sherlock and Watson meets Harry and Hermione with underground magical passages complete with a completely batty and practically blind landlady they can call on for a hair-raising rescue if stranded! Oh and the hilarious ‘philosophical’ discussions between Arthur and Reg remind me of many a workman I have come across but especially the two bumbling dognappers Jasper and Horace from Disney’s 101 Dalmations!
Tinyfae and I have enjoyed this as a bedtime read (I admit I read ahead!) and it’s been a resounding success, she became quickly invested in the characters, worried at the just enough but gentle peril, laughed and celebrated along with the characters. It shows this has read-aloud appeal to younger children as much to older children like Littlefae too!
I like Dirk, he’s a nice silly dragon. I like it when they fly to save the cats.Tinyfae
Ideal for detective mystery fans who like a side of fantasy too, especially readers who may go on to enjoy the Potkin and Stubbs series, this is great fun but also great mystery too. I’m rather looking forward to seeing where book 2 School’s Out will take us!
Dragon Detective: Catnapped by Gareth P Jones is published by Stripes Books
Thank you so much for my copy 💜