The Phantasmic Detective Agency
By Julian Leatherdale
Publication date: March 2020
About the book:
London, Christmas Eve, 1911.The world is changing fast: giant warships, aeroplanes with bombs, spies and assassins, fear of war with Germany. The cosy lives of Lily and Leopold Keeler and their famous stage magician father Edmund Keeler are about to be torn apart by secrets, espionage and monstrous creatures from the shadows.
Trapped in their stuffy Edwardian childhoods, the Keeler siblings pine for adventure. Lily (14) dreams of being Britain’s first woman detective while Leopold, known as ‘Leo’, (15) would love to be a pilot, the newest kind of hero. They both envy their eccentric uncle Alfred, a brilliant and notorious Sherlock Holmes-like paranormal detective who uses his deductive powers and esoteric equipment to solve mysteries from the world of spirits and mythical beasts.
When their uncle’s performance of a Christmas Eve shadow-puppet play of Little Red Riding Hood unexpectedly releases the hungry spectre of the Shadow Wolf, Lily and Leo will get more adventure than they ever bargained for.
But Shadow Wolf proves to be only the first mystery in a conspiracy that threatens to destroy the Keeler family, as Lily and Leo witness their parents, Edmund and Alice, vanish for real in the middle of their latest spectacular magic act. So they turn to their eccentric uncle to keep them safe and solve the mystery of their parents’ disappearance.
From the Royal Naval dockyards of Plymouth to the bone-stacked catacombs of Paris, Uncle Alfred and his two apprentice detectives, Lily and Leo, confront eerie creatures and blood-chilling danger as they are chased by a ruthless spy-ring determined to harness the dark forces of Magick as weapons of war. As Lily struggles with her refusal to believe in shadow-wolves and ghosts and her brother Leo takes terrible risks to impress their eccentric uncle, the Keeler children find moments of great courage and inspired cleverness, as they try to solve the mysteries in Uncle Alfred’s casebook with plenty of clues and spine-tingling intrigue along the way.
The Phantasmic Detective Agency is an original, inventive and gripping fantasy adventure novel for readers aged 10+, set against the backdrop of pre-Great War Europe, when the modern world is being born: gas lamps giving way to electric lighting, horse-drawn carriages to motor cars, spiritualism and superstition to technology and science.
But there is always room for magic…
About the author:
Julian Leatherdale is a novelist, scriptwriter and playwright. His theatre work includes four comedy cabarets, two musicals (Alex in Videoland and The Golem of Prague), a monologue for Breaking Bread and the black comedy The Man Who Became Santa. He wrote animation scripts for children’s TV with SquareZero, London and researched and co-wrote two Film Australia-ABC TV history documentaries The Forgotten Force and Return to Sandakan. His adult historical fiction novels are Palace of Tears (A&U, 2015 and Harper Collins Germany, 2016) and The Opal Dragonfly (A&U, 2018), with The City of Shadows(A&U), forthcoming in 2020. He lives in the Blue Mountains with his family.
The Phantasmic Detective Agency is his first children’s novel.