The Highland Falcon Thief is the first book in the Middle Grade Mystery series, Adventures on Trains, by writing duo, M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman.
I first heard of this series when Gavin, from How to Train Your Gavin on YouTube, mentioned it in a Book Haul video. I was instantly intrigued.
I’ve never traveled via Sleeper Train, but I’ve always wanted to do so. A bucket list item for me, for sure. Imagine how fun it would be traveling that way and having an actual mystery to solve while aboard!?
With these books, you get to experience that.
This story follows 11-year old, Hal Beck, whose Mom is getting ready to enter hospital to have a baby. His parents decide it would be best for Hal to have a getaway, while they are otherwise engaged with the birth of his little sister.
As luck would have it, Hal’s Uncle Nat, a travel writer specializing in trains, is about to board a four-day journey on the Highland Falcon, a royal train taking her last journey through the U.K. It’s perfect timing and the perfect opportunity for Hal to join him.
Hal begins the journey with some trepidation. He hasn’t spent a lot of time with his Uncle and is nervous about traveling just the two of them.
Also, he’s a little concerned about leaving his Mom as she enters the hospital. What if she needs him? He’s honestly the sweetest boy. In spite of his fears, he holds his head high and joins his Uncle for the memorable final journey of the Highland Falcon.
On board, it quickly becomes apparent that Hal is the youngest passenger. No other kids, no video games, no distractions. He’ll have plenty of time to focus on his art.
Then Hal spots her. A girl that shouldn’t be there; a stowaway. Who is she and what is she doing here?
The two become secret friends and when jewelry begins being stolen from passengers on the train, they make an adorable detective duo, as they investigate the crimes.
However, after the Prince and Princesses board the train and her famous necklace is stolen, around the same time the stowaway, Lenny’s, presence is discovered, all suspicion falls on the little girl.
Will they be able to find the real thief in time to save Lenny from serious repercussions?
Y’all, I loved this so much. We’re talking, all new favorite Middle Grade series for me.
Hal is a fantastic character. He has all of the characteristics one would look for in a young hero. He’s smart, loyal, kind, inquisitive, honest and super smart.
Hal is an artist. He does amazing drawings of his surroundings and his drawings actually help him to notice clues pertaining to the mystery. The book contains his drawings and I found the illustrations added a lot to the overall presentation of the story.
I looked forward to getting to the illustrations, so I could see exactly what Hal was seeing. It was especially fun when he was drawing the other passengers. I felt like you could glean a better impression of their character through that.
Additionally, I loved how Hal and his Uncle Nat’s relationship grew over the course of the story. While Hal was always respectful and a bit in awe of his Uncle, you could see as the story progressed how they learned to really trust and love one another.
I liked how his Uncle gave Hal the freedom to explore and enjoy the train on his own without hovering over him. That freedom gave Hal the confidence to interact with a lot of different people.
I also loved the mystery itself. Once the thefts began, I really started to notice how many suspicious characters were on this train. There were a lot of possibilities for whodunit.
Overall, this book was an absolute joy to read. The setting of the train was perfection and I loved the varied cast of interesting characters.
I definitely recommend this one to fans of Middle Grade stories, and Middle Grade Mysteries in particular. 10-out-of-10 recommend!!