The Adventurers and the City of Secrets is the third book in The Adventurers Series by Jemma Hatt (the fourth, The Adventurers and the Continental Chase just came out at the start of November). Like the previous two books this one is narrated by Ciaran Saward.
Jemma was kind enough to send me the first three books as audiobooks in return for honest reviews, I have already reviewed book one The Adventurers and the Cursed Castle and book two, The Adventurers and the Temple of Treasure.
A departure from the norm?
As with many of Blyton’s series these books do not have to be read in order for you to enjoy them. (I always prefer to read it order, though, it feels strange to me if I don’t!) What’s interesting, though, is after the initial introduction to the characters, this book opens with the children attending an event related to the treasure they uncovered in Egypt in the previous book. It’s still not necessary to have read Temple of Treasure but it’s an unusually strong link between the two adventures.
The previous adventure took place in the school holidays – I can’t remember if it’s stated, but I assume it was the October half-term as the first book was set in the summer holidays and this one is during the Christmas holidays. They’re all quite close together which means the Adventurers might be able to avoid the awkward non-aging that the Famous Five suffer from if the series goes on to double figures.
The other difference is the genre of the book. The past two have been what I’d call adventures, the sort of thing you’d find the Famous Five or Mannering/Trents embroiled in. There’s some investigating and puzzle solving but primarily they are adventurous.
This third book is still adventurous but bring in a bit more of a detective theme akin to the Five Find-Outers. This is a pleasant departure, as though the first two books were enjoyable they did have quite a similar ‘hunt for the treasure’ theme. The detective elements of the book include identifying their suspects, researching those suspects, interpreting some papers they got hold of and following a trail across London.
Also, although the first two books had different settings (Kexley Castle in Cornwall, and Egypt) this one is set in London over Christmas and it feels really modern and fresh.
So what are the Adventurers up to this time?
Instead of hunting for long lost treasures this time the children (and Logan) are investigating the theft of some of the artefacts they had just discovered. So they are still tracking down the long lost-treasures, but it feels very different. Before the treasures were buried somewhere well-hidden and long forgotten. This time they’ve been stolen and are on their way across London with the Adventurers racing after them.
Mrs Jacobs, the sensible one, is gotten rid of swiftly as she has pressing work concerns and so the children are left in the dubious care of Logan. For the most part he doesn’t even have Dee keeping him on the straight and narrow, which is pretty much why the children are able to tear around London on the trail of the criminals and get up to all the things they do.
Lara pulls some very George-like moves in this story. Firstly she immediately identifies her main suspect – the rich and well-connected Frances Battenbridge – on some slightly flimsy reasonings to begin with, but just like George and Mr Roland, she is absolutely right. She is able to convince Tom and Rufus much more quickly than George did the Five (of course Barney believes her right away) and so the adventure can start.
Later she ends up in a vehicle full of stolen goods (a lorry, not a spook train) with Barney and has to escape.
The Adventurers, plus Daisy (Lara’s friend) and Uncle Logan follow the Battenbridges’ trail across London from Churchill’s War Room, visiting disused underground stations (from the 1990s, but still very interesting), the London Transport Museum where they are betrayed by an acquaintance and find themselves in the slowest getaway vehicle ever – a vintage red double decker bus, but also find time for a couple of good meals along the way.
Then for the finale, they are joined by Maye (Karim’s sister from the previous book), find themselves in some underground passages and when locked in a room, pull a Mannering/Trent worthy performance in order to escape.
I enjoyed this every bit as much as the previous two. While a strength of the first two books were the detailed puzzles protecting the Egyptian treasures I didn’t miss them this time as there was so much else going on – the stolen bus is an absolute highlight and is used quite a bit.
As these are set in the present-day there are obviously modern devices like smart phones and computers. The children do some research on the internet and Tom uses his phone several times to check maps and locations, but technology is not over-relied on. Rufus and Lara don’t have their own phones for a start, and naturally phones don’t get good signals underground! The use of technology helps keep the story moving swiftly (there would have been no time to scour the public library for the information they needed!) but it doesn’t become intrusive. There are a few phone calls from Mrs Jacobs checking on them, a couple of text messages sent, but Tom’s too sensible to be glued to his phone while there’s an adventure to be had.
Jemma has been lovely enough to send me a copy – a signed copy no less – of the next book, The Adventurers and the Continental chase so I will review that soon, probably in the new year.
I’m like you, Fiona, in that I love reading my books in order too! I always hated how episodic many of the children’s books I read were. I guess that is so if a child only has pocket money for a few, he won’t miss anything.
I know I told you that I only read children’s books from my childhood usually, but it would be interesting to see how 21st century child detectives use modern tools to solve mysteries. I guess the only way for a modern slueth to be bound, gagged and kidnapped (as the Three Investigators or Nancy Drew often were) is for the baddie to frisk them and confiscate their cell phones
You mention there being no time to scour the public library. Well in the Three Investigators, Bob Andrews (the third investigator) did nothing but did up things in the library! He would be totally superfluous in modern children’s books. Even Jesus Lopez in the PC Hawke mysteries (written about the turn of the century, and one of the few YA mysteries I have read that are not from my childhood) would be of no use as he basically was the only one that knew how to handle that mysterious piece of technology called the world wide web and so PC and Mackenzie had to rely on him always for cyberdata. Now with smart phones, tablets, and google easily available, and understood by even 4 and 5 year olds, authors need different bags of tricks!
I’m glad you recommended this, Fiona-I think I’ll look into it (if my library has it) Hoho!