Title: Friday Barnes: Undercover
Author: R.A. Spratt
Genre: Crime Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Published: 1st February 2022
Synopsis: Trouble on the Arctic tundra!
Friday is not running away. Yes, she did get on a train to Norway without telling anyone where she was going – but she had to help Binky. He may or may not have been attacked by a polar bear. Now he’s facing court martial for dereliction of duty. Obviously, Friday had to drop everything and travel 3000 kilometres to solve the case.
The fact that it’s easier to handle her feelings for Ian Wainscott if there’s a continent between them is just a coincidence. When Friday arrives in Oslo, there are so many mysteries to solve. Is someone trying to keep Binky and Princess Ingrid apart? How can a painting leave a museum when all the doors are sealed? And will Melanie persuade Friday to go to the royal ball without wearing a brown cardigan?
If Friday survives her trip to the remote Global Seed Vault, we may find out
Friday’s just been called to help Uncle Bernie, Interpol, and Ian with an art theft case in Bilbao, Spain. That is, until Binky is attacked by a polar beat, so she heads to Norway to solve the case and help Binky get back to his princess, Ingrid, in time for her twenty-first birthday. Which means Friday has to go to a ball in a dress. Friday must work out how to do this, find out how a painting can leave a museum behind closed doors, and what’s so special about the Global Seed Vault, and help Uncle Bernie – all from Norway – can she do it? Of course she can, she’s Friday Barnes!
The tenth book in the Friday Barnes series, like the others, picks up right as book nine ended, keeping the series thrilling and exciting as we get to leap from book to book without too much of a pause. I found this a clever trick not just for kids’ books, but for a crime series as well – like the end of season or end of part one of two episodes common in television, especially crime shows. The way each book is its own story yet builds on what has come before so seamlessly is pure genius, and is sure to keep readers and fans of all ages intrigued – as I have been since I first started reading the series a few years ago.
Friday has seen the world throughout the series and in the last few books especially, and this has opened up new avenues of investigation for our girl detective, whose awkwardness is so relatable, and shows kids that you don’t have to be perfect. I also love Friday and her friends – their honesty, their loyalty, everything – they’re there for each other, they help each other grow, and call each other out when they need it. All whilst solving high stakes art thefts and seed thefts, and uncovering the villainous forces within their school, or in this case, the art and global seed worlds.
Each character is familiar and safe, and the story so cleverly woven and created that it made for fun reading and was very exciting. It allowed our characters to shine and grow, and Binky was just as I remembered him – good old Binky, he’s such a cool character and I look forward to seeing where book eleven takes our characters!