Hello lovely readers! Today, I’ve been really lucky to be involved in the blog tour for Agent Zaiba Investigates: The Missing Diamonds, the start of a brand new middle grade mystery series. It’s a wonderfully diverse book, something that is really needed in the world of middle grade books. It’s also highly enjoyable, and I had a lot of fun reading it!
Eleven-year-old Zaiba is obsessed with crime. Her Aunt Fouzia runs a detective agency back in Karachi and has turned Zaiba on to the brilliant Eden Lockett Mysteries. She has every book in the series – and the quilt cover, and the phone case. All she needs now is a crime to solve…
In book one, Zaiba is attending a family Mehndi party at The Grand Royal Star Hotel when she hears that the prized Italian Greyhound of a famous actress has gone missing from the star’s suite. With the help of her best friend and her little brother, the amateur sleuth manages to foil the petnapping plot and save the day.
For middle grade mystery, I find that books can go one of two ways. They’re either murder-mystery focused, which can be unnerving for younger readers, or they can be really young with not enough mystery in. The Missing Diamonds is a perfect book for readers who want something a little older, but without anything too dark or scary like solving darker crimes like murder. It stars Zaiba, a determined and brave young girl who wants to be a detective just like her aunt, her best friend Poppy who loves food, singing and mysteries just as much as Zaiba, and Ali, Zabia’s younger brother who has a love for facts and statistics.
When Zaiba, Poppy and Ali discover that there’s a mystery celebrity staying at the hotel where Zaiba’s cousin is holding her Mehndi party, they’re desperate to find out who it is! From there, the mystery only deepens when the celebrities dog runs away…and something precious is stolen! The story itself is split into two mysteries, a smaller mystery of discovering who the special celebrity guest is in the hotel, and a bigger mystery of who stole a precious lucky diamond collar charm from said celebrities dog.
The Missing Diamonds is a fast paced read that will keep young readers guessing and trying to solve the mysteries themselves. I feel that many may see themselves in Zaiba, who is obsessed with her favourite book series The Eden Lockett Mysteries. Throughout the story, there are also some mysteries of her own that Zaiba must try and solve which makes the book even more interesting. There are beautiful illustrations throughout that really give The Missing Diamonds something extra special. Children will love looking at the illustrations and spotting all of the characters, as well as seeing if they can spot any clues in the pictures too…
One of the best things about this book is the friendships between Zaiba, Poppy and Ali. Zaiba doesn’t shoo Ali away like an annoying little brother, she respects him and is grateful for any hints he may have in the mystery solving (even if she might have to be told twice because she’s too excited to hear the first time). Ali, in turn, is a great little brother and is very protective of his sister. He’s helpful and kind, and not once does this book fall into the overdone sibling rivalry trope. It’s great to see siblings getting along in books! Zaiba and Poppy’s friendship is great too – they both know when to be serious with each other and when they can have a giggle, and they’re fiercely supportive of the other.
I also really loved how good it was to see a family with a step mum that didn’t fall into the Disney villain stereotype of the Evil Stepmother. It’s overdone so much in children’s fiction, so it was really nice and refreshing to read a book with a kind step mum who cares for the children and who the children love too.
Final thoughts: A refreshing and fun mystery book, perfect for 8+ readers! 4/5