Tag Archives: Simon Cheshire

Six cases for Saxby

I was sure that Simon Cheshire’s Saxby Smart books would be good. If I had been ten years old, which I’m not. But you know, I was reading as bedtime approached and found myself thinking ‘just a few more pages’ and ‘I can go to bed half an hour late, it doesn’t matter’. Those stories were quite more-ish. And humorous.

At first I thought that the idea of having three cases for each book (which means they are fairly short), as well as expecting the reader to pick up on clues and help solve the crime, was not really me. But I did warm to this crime solving business, after a while. I know the clues were really obvious. If they hadn’t been I wouldn’t have had a clue.

Saxby Smart, Secret of the Skull by Simon Cheshire

Saxby is a bit like Eoin Colfer’s Half Moon, a precocious and nerdy detective who clearly doesn’t have a life outside crime solving. Saxby has been compared to Sherlock Holmes, but I feel he’s more of a young and innocent hardboiled PI. If that’s possible.

He claims not to have a sidekick, but that’s wrong. There are two regular helpers; a female with brains and a male with breakfast down his school jumper. This PI might have to make do with a cold garden shed for his HQ, and he has to share it with the garden tools, but he has a steady line of customers and an excellent success rate of solved cases.

Six of which I’ve read about in books 7, The Poisoned Arrow and 8, Secret of the Skull and I now know about amateur dramatics, Saxby’s teacher, as well as the state of Vojvladimia and MI5. That last one might have been on the far fetched side, but…

So, I know I normally blog about children’s books that adults will enjoy. And maybe Saxby Smart is more for child readers, but he does grow on you. He’s rather sweet. He’s aware of how odd he can seem (‘Something in her expression said “Yes, you’re every bit as odd as I expected”.’) which is endearing. And as he solves his crimes he dishes out a lot of common sense.

Excellent for young readers, and not bad at all for old people.

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Saxby Smart’s Detective Handbook

I’d like a small pile of detectives on my bedside table, too. Just like Saxby Smart. He’s a detective who keeps other detectives nearby at night in case he needs them. Ah, no, I see now it’s books he’s got. Though I still quite like the idea of the detectives stacked up. As long as they can keep quiet.

Feeling vaguely Sherlocky today, after watching the Sherlock repeat on television on Sunday, so decided to tackle the detective handbook. I’ve not read any of Saxby’s own criminal adventures, but I suspect they are a lot of fun if this guide is anything to go by. It’s got everything. Or so it seems.

Most importantly it has a list of cons you can try, from phishing to dropping pigeons. Quite zoological. (I’d say, don’t try this at home. Just in case.)

Simon/Saxby explains the history of crime from body snatchers via the Lindbergh baby to Watergate. The difference between peelers and the FBI. Stuff on blood, and also why the butler did it.

The great names like Wilkie Collins and Edgar Allan Poe, Agatha Christie and hardboiled eggs all get a chapter. A DIY lesson in detecting, which I’m far too lazy to even contemplate, but would suit the younger reader.

Finally there is a guide to Saxby’s own bookshelves, with introductions to some of the best crime novels in existence. Not so necessary if you have a crime lover nearby who will initiate you to the ways of crime, but for everybody else this is an invaluable list.

Great to find such a humorous book which takes crime seriously. Apparently they have overcoats in Chicago. That’s good because I believe it gets cold there. But what does a mere dame know? Though I do wish he’d mentioned Knox’s Chinaman. Chinamen are amusing.

And there is information for those of you who need to know how to rob a grave. Which is not the same as snatching bodies, btw. One has come further than the other.