- The Peacock Detectives by Carly Nugent
Nugent, Carly The Peacock Detectives. Harper, 2020 [288p] Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-289670-4 $16.99 E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-289672-8 $7.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 4-6
In this Australian import, Cassie Anderson has a knack for noticing details, so her father gifts her a Notebook for Noticing and her neighbors, the Hudsons, hire her to find their runaway peacocks. Soon, though, the story is less about the whereabouts of wayward birds and more about the major changes in Cassie's life: Dad suffers from depression and eventually stops going to work; Mum moves into a flat and has a boyfriend; and Grandpa is dying in the hospital but she isn't allowed to visit. Then her best friend goes missing, so she works with quondam bully Rhea to find him. Australian turns of phrase and wildlife enliven the novel, which is plenty lively already: it's packed with goings-on to hold the readers' attention, and supporting characters have depth enough to be stars in their own right. By the novel's end circumstances change and there's some insight about what Cassie and Rhea have in common (both have troubled fathers), but the issues are not ironed out completely. Cassie's narration is friendly and inviting; as she acquires knowledge, she shares it with the reader, who essentially becomes her apprentice. Audiences will want to come along for the ride and will look forward to the crew's next adventure.