The Creeping Shadow by Jonathan Stroud

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Lockwood & Co. bk 4. Corgi Books, 2016. ISBN 9780552573153
(Age: 11+) Highly recommended. Fantasy. Ghosts. Horror. The fourth in this fabulous series about a group of intrepid ghost-hunters, sees Lucy hiring herself out as a freelance operative, after leaving Lockwood & Co. She had seen in a vision that she would be responsible for Lockwood's death and was determined to keep away from him. However a surprise visit from Lockwood convinces her that she can do one tough assignment with them finding the Source of the legendary Brixton Cannibal. When the talking skull is stolen and Lucy's life is threatened, she goes to Lockwood and Co for sanctuary and from there the team becomes involved in the sinister activities of the Rotwell and Fittes Agencies.
The creeping shadow does not disappoint. Lucy is an audacious girl, who goes about the business of listening to and securing ghosts in a very courageous way. The loss of the talking skull leads to complications and she and the dashing Lockwood as well as the rest of the team follow clue after clue trying to retrieve it.
There are some dark moments as they retrieve the Source of the Brixton Cannibal, as Stroud describes what the Cannibal did to his victim, but this is alleviated by the usual humour that pervades Stroud's writing. The feelings between Lockwood and Lucy are only slightly touched upon, but are an important thread throughout the book as Lucy tries her best to ensure that she doesn't harm Lockwood.
Some exciting moments in the final chapters of the book will have the reader on the edge of the seat, and a cliff-hanger ending will ensure that the next book is read as soon as it is published.
This is a series that is scary, funny and highly addictive.
Pat Pledger