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A Case of Grave Danger

A Case of Grave Danger #1

Published: 21 Jan 2021

Paperback / softback, 336 pages

Recommended for age 9+

By Sophie Cleverly

Illustrated by Hannah Peck

Published by HarperCollins Publishers

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A breakout new detective series, from the author of the spine-tingling SCARLET AND IVY series, beautifully illustrated by Hannah Peck. Violet Veil wants nothing more than to prove her worth and become her father's apprentice at Veil & Sons Undertakers. And one rain-soaked night she gets her chance when she meets a boy, Oliver, who is wandering around the graveyard.

Only, the last time Violet saw Oliver, he was indoors and very much dead, waiting to be buried. Violet has just found her first case, and it doesn't get bigger than this: can she, with the help of her dog, Bones, help Oliver solve his own 'murder'? 

A Case of Grave Danger #1

Reviewed by Lucy Timmons

A Case of Grave Danger: The plight of the female both now and through history is still such a fascinating contentious, and relevant theme. Underpinning this exciting mystery by Sophie Cleverly and illustrated by Hannah Peck is the theme of femininity. In particular, the challenges for young women in the Victorian era.

Violet is great. She’s determined. She’s ruthless. She’s loyal and incredibly strong-willed. Not a bad role model, in my view.

This whodunnit is set in ‘Seven Gates Cemetery’. Violet Veil, daughter of an undertaker, and her trusty partner Bones the dog are launched into a compelling adventure when a young lad, recently buried by her father, appears very much alive at his graveside.  Simultaneously, the local town is thrown into disarray with the serial killing of several wealthy men. Trouble ensues when her father is accused of these killings by the formidable, no-nonsense Inspector Holbrook.

Violet is determined to prove her father’s innocence, and the reader is taken on a fantastic journey of subterfuge, deceit, and the excitement of evidence seeking.

For teachers, this book provides so much. First and foremost, a thrilling tale. Alongside this, the opportunity to explore very intense themes including death, femininity, rejection, friendship, parentage, and resilience. In a difficult time following the global pandemic, many young people will have been confronted with the reality of death and loss, and I cannot help but feel this book is a great way to normalise this and provide a context for understanding and reconciliation. Violet has a very pragmatic outlook on life and death and a magic connection with those who have passed. This ability proves a gift for her and a source of great strength and reassurance. The author discusses how the story came about as a way to deal with loss, and she does this beautifully, sensitively, and with a strong sense of hope.

Quite timely, one might argue. A Case of Grave Danger is a must for an upper junior bookshelf and skilled teacher who can explore these issues sensitively with their class.

Lucy Timmons is a professionally trained actress and Executive Head teacher based in South East London. Her keen passion is the use of 'Rehearsal Room Pedagogy' as both a medium to create a constructivist approach to learning for children and professionals.