Alice-Miranda holds the key by Jacqueline Harvey

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Alice-Miranda series bk 15. Random House, 2017. ISBN 9780143780700
(Age: 8+) Recommended. In popular author Jacqueline Harvey's new novel Alice-Miranda holds the key, she creatively weaves the familiar stories of school, village and home life and the annual garden party at Highton Hall with puzzling new characters, situations and mysteries to solve. Who holds the key - the runaway girl, the new neighbour who is causing problems or the saboteur involved in industrial espionage? The family grocery empire, Kennington's, is under threat as hundreds of people have fallen ill after eating products made at their factory.
After sharing their picnic lunch with friends, Millie and Alice-Miranda race their ponies through the woods back to the Academy. When Alice-Miranda is knocked off her pony and is injured, Millie's quick thinking and first aid save the day. After a few days in hospital, she is sent home to Highton Hall before the end of term to recuperate. Here everyone is in the midst of cleaning and busy preparations for the annual garden party. The young girl senses the worry and concern of her parents, caught up in the investigations surrounding the factory sabotage. Even Mrs. Oliver their cook and Kennington's food scientist is involved in solving the dilemma.
Interwoven into Alice-Miranda's story is the tale of a very unhappy girl, Francesca Compton-Hall. Chessie has been placed as a boarder at Bodlington School for Girls by her recently remarried mother. Her decision to run away from school and travel to Bedford Manor, where her mother is frantically trying to update her new ancestral home proves to play a pivotal part. Her discovery leads Alice-Miranda on the path to solving the huge problems facing her family business. The tightly woven threads of the mystery, the cast of potential criminals and the carefully placed clues build the tension and excitement, as the villagers, family, friends, and Highton Hall staff prepare for the marvellous annual garden party. Of course, Alice-Miranda's insight and intuition prove vital to solving the mystery of the sabotage and save her family from ruin.
Alice-Miranda holds the key is a wonderful addition to the series. Author Jacqueline Harvey's creative narratives will appeal to a wide audience, with wonderfully appealing characters, continued friendships, supportive families, special celebrations and a frisson of drama and mysteries to solve.
Rhyllis Bignell