Sunday, 20 January 2013

A Season of Sequels

A season of sequels… written by Bridget Carrington featuring - 

Gregg Olsen: Betrayal
David Fuller: Alfie Jones and a Test of Character

Over a year ago I raved about Gregg Olsen’s Envy, the first book in his Empty Coffin series. Betrayal, the second, is now out, and it’s every bit as good as that first one. Set again in Port Gamble (the character of the town reflected in its aboriginal name which actually means ‘empty coffin!), and featuring the Ryan twins, Hayley and Taylor, whose extra-sensory abilities frequently guide them to the truth of the matter, as well as keeping them from disaster by alerting one to the other’s danger, it is partly based on a real-life case. Hard on the heels of the previous cyberbullying-related teen death in the town comes a new case, in which British exchange student Olivia Grant is killed at a Hallowe’en party. The twins are at the party, hosted by a fellow student while her parents are away, and are themselves among the suspects. Suspicion mainly falls on the teen hostess and her boyfriend, and when they disappear, many consider their guilt is proven. As ever in Olsen’s books, all is not as it seems however, and we have to negotiate several red herrings before we discover the true culprit.

Further layers are also unpeeled from the twins’ own family history, and we can guess that this will continue in the third book, Guilt, due out next year. The coach crash which they survived (unlike many of their classmates) at the age of five remains an ever-present mystery to be solved, but we discover that there are even greater mysteries still to be solved about their background and special psychic talents.
Olsen writes a sizzling story, and bases each book on a real crime, this time the Amanda Knox case, and reflects the moral and ethical issues raised by it, although the narrative of each book takes its own direction. Once again he appends an account of the real crime, and his Empty Coffin website at  provides all sorts of extras which are both entertaining and thought-provoking.
Highly recommended!

We met Alfie Jones in March 2012, in Alfie Jones and a Change of Fortune, and a very good book that was. Now Alfie’s involved in another football-filled story, in which his team meet their arch rivals in a tournament. There’s lots to learn about loyalty and friendship, and not judging people by the way they seem to be behaving. Alfie encounters another very shy boy, but like many shy people this young man has been bullied into behaving in an unfriendly way. However Alfie learns what his magical guardian witch Madam Zola means by not judging a book by its cover, and everything turns out well in the end.

Another excellent Alfie Jones book for boys (and girls) who are newly confident readers, and who are passionate about the beautiful game. They can even puzzle out the statistics at the back of the book which record the scores in each of the games played by the Kingsway Colts team at the tournament, and discover how the result is worked out.
More please…Up the Colts!

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