Friday Barnes: Girl Detective

I bought Friday Barnes: Girl Detective on the Kindle because there was only one copy in my library chain, and three of us from the Convent book group who needed to read it. (This month's theme is School Stories). The first of a series of five (to date) these junior fiction novels seem to be doing brilliantly.

The central premise is 'what if Sherlock Holmes was an eleven year old girl?,' but in truth Sherlock and Friday don't have much in common apart from a lack of social skills and a gift for solving mysteries (on the other hand, what more do you need?) Here I must confess that a few years ago, I was toying with the idea of a pair of eleven year old girls as Sherlock and Watson -- it must have been when I first came across BBC Sherlock. My sleuths were called Charlotte and Joss... and that's about as far as I got before I realised that while Sherlock and his imitators have a gift for solving mysteries, I sadly lack the gift for creating them. But RA Spratt has succeeded splendidly where I failed to even cross the starting-line.

At first I found Friday's world oddly hard to place -- was she living in America, the UK? The cultural markers were weirdly elusive, deliberately so, I suspect, as the series has sold into the US. It was a relief to discover that RA Spratt actually lives in Bowral. But it was slightly weird to read a world (mostly boarding school) which is sort of Australian, but not really -- a kind of fairly white bread, Australian-ish alternative universe. (To take a trivial example, TimTams are clearly described, but not named as such -- because poor USians don't have them over there.)

But overall, Friday Barnes is a lot of fun to read, and, I suspect, lots of fun to write, too.

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