The Murder Notebooks Series by Anne Cassidy

There are four books in this series following the adventures of Rose and Joshua. There is one crime that runs through the four books – the disappearance of Rose and Joshua’s parents five years previously. However, each book also contains a new crime that is committed and investigated, adding more tension and excitement to the series. Rose and Joshua act as teenage detectives, trying to find the truth, but sometimes making matters worse.

Book One: Dead Time

Rose and Joshua’s parents disappeared 5 years ago and haven’t been heard of since. The two children have drifted apart but now, aged 17, they are back in touch and trying to find some answers. It’s all very difficult, made harder when Rose gets caught up in two local murders.

There are two crime stories in the book: the two local murders which are resolved in the book itself and the disappearance of Rose and Joshua’s parents which is only starting to be uncovered in this book of the series. Well written and with a good pace. Perhaps a bit repetitive in parts but an enjoyable page turner with lots of twists and turns.

Book Two: Killing Rachel

The sequel to Dead Time has Joshua and Rose continuing the search for their parents. They now have the murder notebooks to decipher and the knowledge that their parents are alive. However Rose is drawn into a mystery relating to Rachel, her ex-friend at boarding school, and she feels less enthused than Joshua to follow up some of the leads he uncovers about their parents.

A straightforward thriller: the main part of the story relates to Rose’s developing feelings for Joshua and the problem of Rachel. The friendships and falling-outs at Rose’s old boarding school are very realistic and against all this tension there is the continuing search for Rose and Joshua’s parents – more information is uncovered but nothing seems to be clearer…

Book 3: Butterfly Grave

Joshua and Rose’s Christmas plans are turned upside down when Joshua’s uncle is involved in an accident. Except, is it an accident and are they being followed? Despite these worries they both press on with their determination to find out the truth and hopefully find out what happened to their parents. They involve Skeggsie in their problems, unaware of how dangerous the situation is getting.

The third book in the series sees Joshua and Rose getting closer to the truth; although as one question is answered it just seems to open up another one. There are plenty of twists and turns and the final outcome of the series remains difficult to guess, keeping the readers on their toes the whole time. Joshua and Rose are normal teenagers, wrapped up in their own problems and confused feelings, and at times this means they are not very likeable. However, they are refreshing – it is nice to read about real humans rather than super-people who get it right all the time.

Book Four: Dead and Buried

Rose and Joshua are finding it hard to cope with the latest developments in the search for the truth about their parent’s disappearance. Joshua is determined to track their parents down but Rose is less sure about how she feels. As their search draws to a close, they are faced with even more problems. A body is found buried in the back garden of their old house, the one they used to live in when their parents disappeared, and Joshua is attacked by people who want to find and punish their parents.

The fourth and final book in the The Murder Notebooks series is full of tension. Although the reader knows why Joshua’s dad and Rose’s mum disappeared, there are still many unanswered questions: did Rose’s mum leave willingly or was she forced to leave by Joshua’s dad and will Rose and Joshua ever get their parents back? Alongside this are the unresolved feelings that Rose and Joshua have for each other – can they develop a relationship when circumstances mean they are unable to be normal teenagers? However, perhaps one of the most interesting and important questions the book raises is this: is it ever right for someone to take the law into their own hands? Dead and Buried is an enjoyable and satisfactory conclusion to the series.

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