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What friends are for

In complete contrast to Deadly Famous, the impact of Dominic Barker's wise-cracking second novel Sharp Shot (Corgi pound;4.99) is entirely dependent on the strong central voice of teenage detective Mickey Sharp.

Plot is secondary. Indeed, the case of a missing sports cup is just a vehicle for Mickey to make his hardboiled private-eye observations, mostly debunking the stereotypical behaviour-management strategies of teachers and other adults. As such, it's not likely to be abig read-aloud favourite in class, but it should go down a storm with Years 5 and 6, especially boys. Mickey can't understand girls' relationships: "They have best friends and they spend the whole time arguing with each otherI All boys do with their best friends is play football and have farting competitions."

What the observations lack in subtlety and finesse, they make up for in energy. Recommended for older primary pupils who enjoy the wackier TV comedies.

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