An animal lover discovers threats, disappearances, and international espionage after moving from London to the Dorset coast.
Twelve-year-old Kat Wolfe, a white girl, doesn’t mind moving to a little seaside village for her mum’s new job. She hasn’t reckoned on finding intrigue, but as soon as she starts up a petsitting agency, she’s drawn into a worrying mystery. Ramon, a friendly Paraguayan ornithologist, asks Kat to watch Bailey, the multilingual parrot, while he’s out of the country. Kat’s in awe of Ramon’s house, a “futuristic fortress” chock-full of high-tech gadgets, until she discovers evidence of foul play. The village policeman, Sgt. Singh, thinks Kat’s talking nonsense. If it weren’t for her new friends (elderly Edith Chalmers and her golden retriever, 13-year-old, biracial Cuban-American Harper Lamb and her racehorse), she’d be stuck. Retired librarian Edith and hacker Harper uncover evidence of a Cold War mystery. There are false identities, secret codes, sleeper agents, the CIA, MI5, and a dangerous horse ride over storm-lashed moors. “You’ll never get away with this,” Kat tells the villain, and she’s right, of course. Their little Dorset village is realistically diverse despite some awkwardness (Kat practices a fake Chinese martial art called “the Way of the Mongoose”), and the crystal-clear girls-do-computers message is welcome.
Enough unresolved questions remain for a sequel to this fun, silly spy adventure. (Thriller. 9-12)