Title: Friday Barnes: No Escape
Author: R.A. Spratt
Published: 2nd February 2020
Synopsis: Friday Barnes is back with a new mystery to be solved.
It’s two years later . . .
Friday steps out of prison, a shell of her former self. She’s still wearing the same brown cardigan, but she swears she’s never solving mysteries again! Yeah right – who is she kidding? She can’t suppress her brilliant deductive mind and is soon drawn back into the intrigues of Highcrest Academy.
Then Uncle Bernie rings, pleading with Friday to fly to Italy and help him protect the Uffizi Galleries from a team of art thieves – and she can’t say ‘no’ to family. Even if it means travelling to the city where Ian, her ex-boyfriend/nemesis is living.
Will Friday be able to protect Italy’s finest artworks? Will Melanie stay awake long enough to help her? And will Ian still be as gorgeous as a Greek god and twice as annoying?
Friday, now fifteen, emerges from a juvenile detention centre – and is greeted by Dr Belcredi and Melanie, who take her back to Highcrest, the only home she has now. She’s determined to stay out of trouble and focus on her translation of the Odyssey, yet she finds herself pulled into a series of mysteries at school. When her uncle summons her to Italy, Friday tags along on the school trip to the historic country, where she uncovers the wonders of science, history. And a gang of art thieves, as well as the knowledge that Ian has a new girlfriend.
As Friday explores Italy, she uses her wits and smarts to solve the case and crimes, yet she’s still the same uncertain, and socially awkward Friday we love. She still needs help navigating all the social cues, and she has the wonderful Melanie Pelly to help her with that. Eager to steer clear of anything that would put her back in prison, Friday’s journey in this book is touching, as she grapples with fears of being trapped in small spaces, fears of flying and the fear that she will be judged even though what happened wasn’t really her fault. Thankfully, she no longer has to contend with the bullies, Trea Babcock and Mirabella Peterson, who have moved onto other students and other things to worry about.
The book takes Friday and her friends on a journey around Italy, and into conflict with new characters, and new secrets – secrets that are cleverly guarded and lead to a surprise that could be taking us into the tenth book. This new and exciting adventure ups the stakes whilst still exploring the same themes and characters as the previous books. Friendship is front and centre, as is Friday’s quest to find somewhere she belongs. The teachers are as unteacherlike as ever – Mrs Cannon and her ability to flirt with anyone and completely ignore school protocols shines in this book, and as always, Friday strives to solve the cases at hand, despite her reluctance. Her talents are still as sharp as they used to be, and I can’t wait to see what she uses them for in the next book.
R.A. Spratt really explores Friday’s need to belong somewhere and have stability and security in this book, building on what we have been told in the previous eight books. She is still just a kid, who has only just found somewhere she belongs with the stability and security she craves but fears that could all be taken away from her at a moment’s notice, all while grappling with the typical teenage insecurities of falling in love and navigating friendships and the murky social world. All the characters are flawed, and many of them certainly embrace these flaws wholeheartedly, whilst others act like they’re not flawed. This shows the spectrum of what human emotion is, albeit in a smaller context with a select group of characters, but that’s what makes the book work. Each story focuses mostly on Friday, Melanie and Ian, but allows peripheral and recurring characters to come in and out as needed, to contrast to these three and ensure that the story communicates its message well. That it is okay to be you, and at the same time, having a friend around to help you navigate things you find difficult is okay too.
Another great adventure for Friday Barnes.