Kat Wolfe takes the case by Lauren St John

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Illus. by Daniel Deamo. Macmillan, 2019, ISBN: 9781509874217.
(Age: 10-14) Highly recommended. Themes: Mysteries, Detectives, Palaeontology, Pets, Conservation. When a landslide on the cliffs above Bluebell Bay reveals a rare fossilized 'dragon' dinosaur and uncovers a human skeleton, it is time for detectives Kat Wolfe and her best friend Harper Lamb to investigate. Who was responsible for the death of an amateur fossil-collector?
The town soon becomes overrun with reporters, scientists, fossil hunters and attracts famous actors. Harper's palaeontologist father immediately begins to lead the team in the preservation of the dinosaur, whilst others are out to steal the skeleton for its special medicinal qualities.
Kat's pet sitting service Paws and Claws provides opportunities for her to listen, observe and gather information as she walks dogs and cares for Mr B the python. Horses, dogs, her pet Tiny an F1 Savannah cat, a stolen lynx and the python play important roles in the discovery of an evil plot hatched by a dangerous group of people. A weekend spent with Kate's grandfather, the British Minister of Defence at his stately home also provides insight into the Bluebell Bay mysteries. Kat's high-level computing skills (hacking) proves crucial as well. Added to the danger of the investigation, the animal catcher is determined to catch Tiny who loves to disappear at night.
Author Lauren St John excels with this multi-layered, tense plot, filled with fascinating characters and an array of pets. She promotes a vegan lifestyle, explores the dynamics of family relationships and delves into the illegal trade in exotic animal products and the extinction of wild animal species. Her descriptive narrative and detailed settings, her ability to lay the groundwork and draw the threads together into a thrilling conclusion, make this an engaging novel. Daniel Deamo's sketches, includes ninjas fighting on a rooftop and a python curled in a driver's seat, combine with the catchy chapter headings focus the reader's attention and build the drama.
'Kat Wolfe takes the case' an excellent novel for readers from 10 to 14 years, opening conversations about conservation and environmental issues.
Rhyllis Bignell