Rory Branagan: The Deadly Dinner Lady by Andrew Clover and Ralph Lazar

The Blurb On The Back:

Hello.

I am Rory Branagan.  I am actually a detective.  My school is having a talent show – with Mr Bolton’s ridiculous rap, Mr Meeton’s epic guitar solos and my friend Cat’s amazing dance – but, right in the middle of it, there is the deadliest crime in the history of our school.  I have to find out who did it and why – before they strike again! 

You can order Rory Branagan: The Deadly Dinner Lady by Andrew Clover and Ralph Lazar from Amazon USAAmazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

It’s one week after RORY BRANAGAN DETECTIVE: THE BIG CASH ROBBERY where 10-year-old Rory Branagan and Cassidy “Cat” Callahan solved the Big Cash Robbery.

Mr Bolton (the headmaster of Rory and Cat’s school) announces that there will be a talent competition where staff and students alike can show off their singing, dancing and other talents to the school. Mr Bolton has prepared a rap about the correct use of apostrophes, Cat has planned an acrobatics routine. Rory’s favourite teaser – Mr Meeton – is singing a song and playing guitar but the unexpected star is Ms Rhodes (the Head Dinner Lady who everyone calls the Toad) who does a comedy routine aping the other contestants. The kids love the Toad’s act but someone clearly doesn’t because before the winner can be announced, she is brutally attacked and Rory is pretty sure she’s dead!

It isn’t long before the police are at the school but Rory knows that this is a case for he and Cat and he is determined to find out who did it to bring them to justice!

The fourth in Andrew Clover’s comedy mystery series for children aged 9+ is more substantial than the first book and gives a clearer indication of what happened to Rory’s dad (promising heart ache ahead). Ralph Lazar’s illustrations work brilliantly to bring the story to life, there is a poo joke that genuinely made me giggle and while I wanted a little more development for Cat I did enjoy discovering that she isn’t as unflappable as she seems.

One of my criticisms of the first book was the the story was very thin. This book addresses that issue by having a central mystery that drives the action and although that mystery is a little bare bones, I still enjoyed how Rory and Cat go about their investigations and try to avoid the police who are keen for them to stay out of it. There’s more character development here for both Rory and Cat – in Rory’s case we learn how he hero-worships Mr Meeton a little while Cat is under pressure from her dad to give up investigating to stay safe – and Corner Boy has a bigger role as well, which I appreciated. The book also indicates what’s happened to Rory’s dad, which I suspect will be developed further in book 5 and which maybe promises some heartache for Rory ahead.

The humour in this book works very well. There’s a genuinely funny poo joke that made me giggle far more than a woman my age should be giggling for, Mr Bolton’s dedication to the proper use of apostrophes was a cause I could get behind (and his rap is pretty amusing) while Ralph Lazar’s illustrations work really well to complement both the story and Rory’s flights of fantasy (my favourites being the ones where we see Rory’s trampoline moves).

All in all, I thought this was an enjoyable, fun read that kids will adore and I very much look forward to reading Rory and Cat’s next adventure.

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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