My Books
The Case of the London Dragonfish

Lovereading4kids A Recommended Summer Read for 2010!

Chosen by Pandora Books for their Best New Books for Year 5 list

SHORTLISTED FOR THE SCOTTISH CHILDREN'S BOOK AWARD !

Scottish Book Trust Top Secret:  8 Books About Spies (8-11)

 

Slightly Jones has red hair, too many freckles and a flyaway temper, but she's not going to let that stop her becoming the next Sherlock Holmes...

A precious fossil is about to be presented to Queen Victoria at the Natural History Museum in London. But when the exhibit goes missing, the finger points to an innocent man. Slightly Jones won't let the real culprit get away with it - and with the help of Granny Tonic, Slightly is determined to save the day.

Chapter One:  Shadow in the Dark

The night-watchman’s footsteps echoed in the darkness.  He was carrying a lantern, but it had no chance of lighting more than a tiny circle of the enormous black space through which he moved.  Emptiness arched above him, high as a cathedral.  Dim shapes loomed as the man paced past:  skeletons and skulls, animal heads, and gigantic bodies covered with fur, scales, rough hide.  What sort of nightmare place would house such horrors? 

But the man showed no fear.  Granted, he was mumbling to himself, but it was just that – mumbling.  He wasn’t whimpering or gibbering, which would make more sense, given the ghastly glints of giant teeth and razor claws to be glimpsed on either side of him.  He was just talking to himself in a preoccupied but perfectly calm way.

“Perhaps it would be better if the blood-stained letter is first discovered in Chapter Three?  Before Lord Algernon is accused of the murder?  I wonder …  That might very well be the answer!  And then I could …”

For a moment it was almost as if the grisly monstrosities were leaning closer out of the shadows, trying to catch his words - but if so, they were out of luck.  The rest of the watchman’s muttering was lost as he and his circle of lantern light passed under the far archway and disappeared into another part of the building.  The echo of his boots could still be heard, but then that too died away.  The threatening shapes retreated into the dark once more.  For a long time, nothing disturbed the stillness – not a breath of air, not a murmur, not a sigh.

Then part of a shadow detached itself and ran across the floor.

The scratch of a sulphur match seemed louder than an explosion.  As a dark-lantern was lit and the door quickly shut, the brief flare seared the darkness like a flash of lightning.  Tiny muffled clattering noises made small dents in the silence – there was a screech of hinges - another scurrying of feet across the stone floor – and then …

Nothing.

... that when Arthur Conan Doyle got tired of writing Sherlock Holmes stories for the Strand Magazine, he killed his famous detective off in 1893?  Outraged, 20,000 readers cancelled their subscriptions!  (The author finally agreed to start writing Sherlock Holmes stories again, but not until 1902.)

 

... that when I was doing the research for this book I got the chance to go into the Archives at the Natural History Museum and saw the most wonderful photographs from the 1890s - including one of a girl and a lady sitting in the Central Hall who look EXACTLY like Slightly and Granny Tonic!  (Many thanks to James Hutton in Archives for all his help.)

 

... that I have a fossil of fish from China in a box on the table in my sitting-room?  Just ordinary fish, though, not dragonfish.

"I really enjoyed this book because it wasn't too serious, it was a little bit funny and very interesting, and it made you want to keep on reading.

I would recommend this book for ages 10 or 11,and I give it 9 out of 10.

I would definitely read the next Slightly Jones book - The Case of the Glasgow Ghoul."

Petros (age 9) Anorak Magazine

Here are the answers to the questions in the back of The Case of the London Dragonfish

All Souls Church didn't have a crypt in the 1890s. Today there is a Hall under the church, dug out in the 1970s.

Magturpisres longissnomen is Latin (sort of) for "great big ugly something with a long name".

Matthew Bone's Victorian thieves slang:
Here's what the words mean in modern English.

wipe = handkerchief
rozzers = policemen
geezer = man
slavey = female servant
rum fogle = fine handkerchief
moniker = name
nab = steal
scarper = run away
nick = steal
needful = money