‘Violet and the Pearl of the Orient’ by Harriet Whitehorn

Any book that opens with the heroine hanging upside down from a tree is bound to win Moontrug over. And so Harriet Whitehorn’s debut 7+ years detective story, Violet and the Pearl of the Orient, begins. When the Count and Countess Du Plicitous move into Violet’s neighbourhood she’s sure there’s something strange about them. And when her eccentric neighbour, Dee Dee Derota, has a precious jewel called the Pearl of the Orient stolen, a series of clues make Violet think the new family are to blame. But with no one willing to listen to her, Violet’s going to need to use all her detective skills to uncover the truth…


The book boasts a string of fabulously named characters: a cat called Pudding (short for Sticky Toffee Pudding), a headmistress called Mrs Rumperbottom and a malevolent man called Count Du Plicitous. But it’s Violet who really steals the show. Moontrug had been told by one of the UK’s top book bloggers, Jenny Davies (@WondrousReads on Twitter), that she would love Violet, so she was expecting BIG THINGS. And that’s exactly what Whitehorn gives. Violet’s capacity for adventure is brilliant (she climbs the forbidden tree again and again even though a fall from it broke her limb), she makes epic escape plans from her school (‘Plan A: striding straight forwardly and brazenly out of the front door’) and she won’t give up on finding the Pearl of the Orient (even if it means challenging the police).


Whitehorn’s style of writing is effortlessly gorgeous. Not only does she introduce the characters by describing their favourite foods (‘you can tell a lot about a person from their favourite food’), she then perfectly captures the odious snobbery of the Du Plicitous family, with lines from Isabella Du Plicitous, like ‘That is locked because we are so rich and have so many valuable things’ as delectably foul as some of Dudley Dursley’s best ones in the Harry Potter books. The sense of adventure is carried forward by the impetuous Violet, and her nervous side-kick Rosie, as well as the beautiful illustrations by uber-talented Becka Moor. Moontrug is happy to know that it’s not just Sherlock Holmes solving clues out there any more; we’ve got some properly awesome girl detectives kicking around, too: Mariella Mystery, Noelle Hawkins and now, the totally charming and wonderfully clever, Violet Remy-Robinson.