Book Review, Middle Grade Fiction

Murder on the Safari Star by M.G. Leonard & Sam Sedgman, illustrated by Elisa Paganelli

Harrison (Hal) and Uncle Nat are back for their third fast-paced, heart-stopping, edge of your seat mystery! The Adventures on Trains series just keep getting better and better with Murder on the Safari Star. This time, Uncle Nat surprises Hal with the best Christmas present ever – a chance to travel through South Africa and Zimbabwe on a luxury steam train all the way to the extraordinary Victoria Falls.

When they arrive in Pretoria, ready to board the Safari Star, Hal meets all sorts of interesting and eccentric international characters. Hal’s new friend, Winston, is the son of the train’s safari guide. Along with Winston’s yellow mongoose, Chipo, the boys are ready to explore the train carriages and discover the stories of their fellow passengers. They also learn that the railway itself is in trouble. There aren’t enough customers to keep the line running. Hopefully, Uncle Nat’s positive review will bring in more passengers and give the Safari Star a future.

Everything is running smoothly until there’s a terrible accident and one of the passengers is found dead. Was it an accident or was it murder? Suddenly, everyone’s a suspect and Hal finds himself in the middle of another investigation. Can he solve the mystery before the train reaches the Zambian border?

Searching for clues, alibis and suspects turns a wildlife-spotting adventure into a matter of life and death. Secret compartments, smuggling and endangered animals launch Hal and Winston into very real danger. They must rely on their wits and deduction skills to work out who actually had the means, motive and opportunity to commit the multiple crimes onboard.

Murder on the Safari Star is another fantastic book to use in schools. Perfect for Key Stage Two (Years 3 to 6), it is engaging with just the right amount danger to keep everyone hooked. It would stretch beautifully up into Key Stage 3 as well. With great geography facts and information about British links to South Africa during the Industrial Revolution, it would fit into many different themes. But the true value of this series is its ability to encourage children to observe, think carefully, make connections and solve problems.

Elisa Paganelli’s illustrations are absolutely perfect. They bring the mystery to life and give the reader brilliant insight into Hal’s sketches and thought process.

The Adventures on Trains series has inspired us to travel the world on these historic railways. Hopefully, we will be able to one day but in the meantime, we’ll have to wait for the next adventure when Hal and Uncle Nat travel to Germany amongst superstitions and curses for Danger at Deadman’s Pass.

Thank you to Macmillan Children’s Books for this brilliant book!

You can read my reviews of the first two books in the series by clicking on the photos below.

Click on the covers below to find out more or purchase on-line from Amazon.

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