Rory Branagan (Detective) – Andrew Clover

Illustrations – Ralph Lazar

Rory Branagan was three when his father left. He’s now ten and no one tells him anything. Rory lives with his mother, older brother Seamus who kind of looks like a banana with stick figure arms and legs, and Auntie Jo who isn’t really an Auntie.

Rory’s best friend is Wilkens Welkin, a sausage dog owned by elderly neighbour/babysitter Mrs Welkin. Rory is also friends with Corner Boy who stands on a corner, spear in hand, ready to hit you with it if you go near him without asking first. Corner Boy’s father seems to make a living by selling unpackaged goods that may have fallen off the back of a truck.

Cassidy Corrigan-or-Callaghan (depending on which of the two surnames she uses to introduce herself you believe) and her parents have just moved in next door. Their house was previously empty for three years and this empty home used to be the biggest mystery on Rory’s street. After spotting Rory spying on her parents Cassidy and Rory strike up a conversation and then hang out for most of the rest of the book.

I get the feeling Cassidy is supposed to be strong, smart and mysterious but she annoyed me a lot. She’s a brash know-it-all who seems to do as she pleases, including rummaging through Rory’s mother’s bedroom looking for evidence just minutes after meeting Rory.

What begins as Rory and Cassidy deciding to solve the mystery of Rory’s MIA father turns into their first case as detective and accomplice when it appears that Corner Boy’s father may have been poisoned.

This new series (the first of seven books) is marketed as comedy-crime, but I didn’t find this first book funny. With a lot of series already established that are pretty much half story and half illustration there needs to be something special to make another new series a must-read for me. The illustrations weren’t the type I’d usually pick up a book for. However I was partial to the sharks and the “huge puffer fish that has hair like Donald Trump”.

I didn’t really connect with any of the characters and none of them had that personality spark that makes me want to read the next book immediately. The mystery got solved too easily and while we’re given a hint about Rory’s father at the end of the book, I get the feeling that this mystery is going to get dragged out to the end of the series. I might give the second book a try to see if it gets into a groove but this one felt like it was trying too hard.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Meet RORY BRANAGAN – he eats bad guys for breakfast. Well, not ACTUALLY. But he IS the best detective in town. First in a hilarious seven-book, comedy-crime series for readers of 8+

Hello. I am Rory Branagan. I am actually a detective.

People always say, ‘How do you become a detective?’

And I say, ‘Ahhhh … you don’t just FIND YOURSELF suddenly sneaking up on baddies, or diving out of the way as they shoot, or hurtling from an open plane towards the ground! You have to want it.’

And what made ME want it? I needed to find out what happened to my dad …

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