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The Pearl Thief

The Pearl Thief
Written by Elizabeth Wein
Bloomsbury £7.99
ISBN: 978-1408866610

This is Elizabeth Wein's first mystery novel and it is fascinating to follow the teenage Julie, the feisty and tragic heroine from her war novel Code Name Verity.

She returns to her family's ancestral home in Perthshire, for the last summer before it is sold, and ends up with concussion and no memory. The intrigue continues when the London archivist recording the family's treasures goes missing, a body is found in the river and the family pearls disappear.

Suspicions are rife. The McEwens are a Highland traveller family that are very well-liked and have lived locally for as long as anyone can remember. When the police put them at the top of their suspect list, Julie immediately leaps to the defence of her family's friends. Set in the 1930s, Julie is determined to enjoy life to the full before she returns to school and driving her mother's car and kissing her best friend is only part of the summer of discovery.

The story is written with Elizabeth Wein's characteristic style - with flair and attention to detail. The characters are diverse, interesting and plausible and the intrigue is maintained to the dramatic conclusion. But, it is Julie's journey of self-knowledge, first love and the effects of change which stay after the last page is turned.

Louise Stothard

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