May 192024
Mallika’s M4 Mystery 2 – Chasing Justice, Missing Wildlife! [Review]
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Title: The Case of the Missing Turtles An M4 Mystery Book 2
Author: Mallika Ravikumar 
Publisher: Talking Cub (an imprint of Speaking Tiger Books)
Length: 244 pages
Type: Paperback
Age group: 10 years+

Growing up, my favorite reads were books featuring The Five Find-Outers and The Three Investigators. These stories were thrilling with their smart clues, interesting characters, and children courting danger in ways I never would. While Mallika’s M4 series shares some similarities, it stands out as much more than just an Indianized version of those beloved childhood books. 

The M4 series excels in busting stereotypes, reflecting on societal norms, and encouraging readers to question their viewpoints. The first book in the series, The Vanishing Gods, had Malhar, Meera, Mirchi, and Munna addressing our national heritage. In this book, the focus shifts to wildlife from various perspectives: forest officers, legal aspects, and the original caretakers of the jungles—the tribal communities. And as it does so, it makes the reader also look at it from various perspectives and like the DCF Vanaja says, things are not so black and white. 

Feels heavy?  

As Mirchi might say, “Fikar not. It is not heavy at all.”  

The action kicks off right from page one when one of Mirchi’s friends seeks his help after the police arrest his fisherman father. His alleged crime? Possession of banned turtles found on his boat. However, the children soon discover that these are not the banned sea turtles but freshwater turtles.

How did they end up on the boat? Who is behind this? And why? 

From the cramped confines of the suspects’ hideouts to luxurious houses and hotels, and into the wild expanse of the jungle, M4’s pursuit of the missing turtles propels them through nonstop action. Their small act of kindness for a fisherman plunges them into danger, pitting them against poachers and politicians across Malsauri. Along the way, they are aided by allies, some of whom also appeared in book one—Mrs. Ghosh, the art teacher and partner-in-crime; Sakhi, the police officer; Madhavi Pradhan, the unsuspecting mother; and Vanaja Narula, the Deputy Conservator of Forests. 

The book is quite enjoyable to read, moving at a fast pace and throwing the kids into one danger after another as they chase clues to a satisfactory resolution. M4: The Case of the Missing Turtles is a thrilling adventure perfect for middle-grade readers (and adults alike) who crave action, suspense, and a touch of social consciousness. 

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Disclaimer: Mandira is part of the #kbcReviewerSquad and received this book as a review copy from the publisher via kbc. She is the author of the award winning book Children of the Hidden Land.

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