Mic drop by Sharna Jackson

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Mic Drop follows Sharna Jackson's first adventure/mystery/murder book High Rise Mystery. These two books comprise the first of The High Rise Mystery series which is the result of a smart collaboration between English writer, Sharna Jackson and London based illustrator and muralist Wumzum.  Sharna Jackson aims to...." encourage and increase diverse and disengaged audiences' participation in the arts..."  The High Rise Mystery series, exemplified by Mic Drop, is highly likely to do just that. This book is accessible. The format is immediately highly engaging. 

Wumzum has drawn a map of the Tri Towers apartment building on the opening double spread page. The reader is immersed straightaway into the geography of the place where the murder is set. Norva and Nik, two intrepid, quirky, smart and super-annoying, nosey parker, preteen/ teen detectives are on-the-ground super organised sleuths. The reader is privy to their notes/case records which are methodically updated in tabular form. The story has immediacy because it is told in the first voice of Nik. Action is high paced.

The story is circular. At the start there is a section of italicised text which describes the horrifying death of TrojKat, a south London streaming sensation, who was apparently about to sign a contract with a New York based record label. The story then circles back to TrojKat's arrival at the Towers and the filmcrew, family and neighbours who were part of her final days. Breadcrumbs and red herrings are flung about liberally; some big clues and certainties turn out to be nothing and some subtle, small clues turn out to be vital as in all the best whodunnits.

The sentence structure is snappy, somewhat like a police witness report might be and the reader sees the world through the sassy, smart and inquisitive viewpoint of Nik as the crime scene and clues are sorted. Along the way, the reader is drawn into the family worlds of diverse characters. Particularly heart-warming is the portrayal of Nik and Norva's Pap, who is a single dad. 

The text is interspersed with changing fonts in the form of text messages, song lyrics and even old fashioned newspaper cutting ransom notes and updated case notes which serve as a break for reluctant readers who find continuous text challenging. The dialogue is jargonistic, supercool and hip-full of Afro-English and general London teenage urban slang.

Mic drop allows readers to enter the world of the diverse group of people who live in high rise London, the world of the internet, of online chat and communication, of  popular music and teenage discourse.

In turns, disturbing and reassuring, this fast paced, action packed murder mystery will have you guessing until the end!

Highly recommended.

Themes: Mystery/detectives, Friendship, Diverse families, London high-rise living, Internet streaming pop-culture.

Wendy Jeffrey