Murder On The Safari Star by M.G. Leonard & Sam Sedgman
Published By: Macmillan Children’s Books
Released: 4th February 2021
CAWPILE Rating: 8.8 / 4 ★
I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Join Hal and Uncle Nat as they plunge straight into an exciting mystery – this time while on Safari!
All-aboard for the third amazing journey in the bestselling Adventures on Trains series from M. G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman, illustrated throughout by Elisa Paganelli.
Uncle Nat is taking Hal on the journey of a lifetime – on a Safari Train from Pretoria to Victoria Falls. Drawing Africa’s amazing wild animals from on board a spectacular steam train described as a luxury hotel on wheels, should be enough excitement for anyone. But something suspicious is happening on board the Safari Star and when a passenger is found mysteriously killed inside a locked compartment, it’s up to Hal, along with his new friend Winston and his pet Mongoose, Chipo, to solve the murder mystery.
The Adventures on Trains series is becoming one of my favourite middle grade series and I have found myself often counting down the days until the next book in the series is released. Murder On The Safari Star is the third book in the series and the one that I’ve been anticipating the most. I couldn’t wait to dive back into the adventures of Hal and Uncle Nat, and discover what mystery they were going to solve next.
After their last adventure on the California Comet, Uncle Nat surprise Hal with a trip on the Safari Star – a safari train from Pretoria to Victoria Falls in South Africa. Hal is automatically excited to go on another adventure with his uncle and have the chance to draw some amazing animals from onboard a beautiful steam train. However, as soon as he gets on board Hal knows something suspicious is happening on the Safari Star and when a passenger is found murdered, it’s up to Hal, Uncle Nat and his new friend Winston to try and solve the mystery of the Murder On The Safari Star.
Just like the first two books in the series, Murder On The Safari Star packs a punch with its adventure, mystery and crime-solving elements, and if I’m being honest it’s probably my favourite book of the series so far. From the first few chapters, you are thrust into the enigma surrounding the Safari Star and the people on board it. This being said, I was drawn in from the get-go and found the book very hard to put down, I also had the same problem with its two predecessors. With this series, you can’t help but want to unravel the mystery as quickly as you can, and this was certainly more prominent for me with Murder On The Safari Star.
The plot, I think moved a lot slower than the previous two books, but this wasn’t seen as a negative by any means. In my opinion, I believe that the slower plotline worked well for the story, and meant we also got to enjoy some other aspects such as the safari elements, and Hal’s friendship with Winston and Uncle Nat. The lead up to the murder is mysterious, and tense in some places you are left waiting on tenterhooks for it to happen. When it does finally happen you are left feeling shaken, and you just want to investigate who did it alongside Hal. Hal’s urge to solve this crime is shown tenfold throughout the book, and you find yourself feeling just as satisfied as him when he solves the mystery. I also want to mention the setting of Murder On The Safari Star – it’s gorgeous! I have never been to South Africa, but whilst I was reading I could imagine myself there, going on safari and seeing all the incredible wild animals. It was truly such a joyous thing to feel when reading. The way everything is described through a child’s eyes makes it even more magical, and that for me was one of the stand out things to this book.
Hal, as a character has grown as the series has progressed, and I feel that he’s learning more and more about himself through each adventure. His determination and grit to get to the bottom of the crime shone through the most in Murder On The Safari Star, and you can feel how proud he is of his achievements. I have also loved seeing his relationship with Uncle Nat grow and grow, and in this book, you can see how close they have become and how much trust they have for one another. Also, Hal’s ability to easily make friends on each of his adventures shows how friendly he is, and how much he longs for that friendship element wherever he is.
Murder On The Safari Star was yet again another incredible instalment to a series that has cemented itself as one of my favourites. The mystery, tension, adventure and fun that are woven together makes for one super read. Bring on book four!