Detective Gordon: The First Case
Book review by Trevor Agnew
Detective Gordon: The First Case (2015) Ulf Nilsson, ill. Gitte Spee, Gecko Press, Wellington NZ, 95 pages paperback ISBN 978 1 92721 50 6
When an outraged squirrel reports a nut theft, Gordon soon finds that he needs help – not least because he has become frozen in place during a snowy overnight stake-out.
His rescuer (and first suspect) is the charming mouse, Buffy, who becomes Gordon’s lively and vigorous deputy. The odd couple complement each other perfectly as they seek out the mysteriously elusive nut-thief.
A charming aspect of this story is Gordon’s broad-hearted interpretation of the law. He doesn’t begrudge a nut to a starving mouse. “Say they’re dizzy and about to faint and need a bite to eat – we’re understanding. We must make allowances in our forest. All of us.” Gordon’s detection techniques are also appealing. The process by which he eliminates the fox and several other suspects from his investigation will appeal to the logical minds of young readers.
Both Buffy and Gordon take pleasure in the rituals and routines of their work. The former mainly consists of using the station stamp which has a satisfying Kla-dunk sound. The latter involves the contents of the three police station cake tins. The animals are as interested in their food – oat cakes with candied orange, vanilla cakes with strawberry jam, chocolate cakes with blackcurrant jam – as their counterparts in The Wind in the Willows. Like Precious Ramotswe, Gordon uses his understanding of human nature (or in his case animal nature) to bring events to a conclusion that gives everyone what they deserve.
Detective Gordon: The First Case is beautifully written with gentle humour and compassion. The colour illustrations by Gitte Spee capture the mood of the tale perfectly; her squirrels are full of exuberance, Gordon is world-weary and Buffy is refreshingly enthusiastic. The result is an ideal introduction for young readers to the world of novels.
This book was first published in Sweden in 2012 as Kommismarie Gordon:Det första fallet; the English translation is by Julia Marshall.
5 Feb 2015