This is M G Leonard’s first book and is set in London. Thirteen-year-old Darkus is taken in by his eccentric and kindly Uncle Max when his father, Dr Bartholomew Cuttle, of the Natural History Museum, disappears without trace from a locked room crammed full of beetles. The police have given up looking but Darkus is determined to find him. Along with his good friends, Virginia and Bertolt, he uncovers a link between his father’s disappearance and an amazing collection of super-beetles capable of communicating with humans. One of these - a magnificent rhinoceros beetle with three tusks - becomes particularly friendly with Darkus and they are soon inseparable. There are many other beetles to meet and enjoy as well: a mighty goliath beetle, beautiful emerald-green tiger beetles, industrious dung beetles, a pretty jewel beetle with a dazzling rainbow of colours and acid-spitting blister beetles to name but a few.
The plot deepens with the appearance of the evil Lucretia Cutter, beetle-collector extraordinaire, and sporting a brooch made from a live beetle encrusted with black diamonds. She is determined to have those super-beetles and nothing will stop her. But how can Darkus and his friends save them and find the missing doctor before it’s too late?
This is a wonderful book and a real page-turner, with a string of entertaining characters and an exciting plot. It’s quirky and funny and you’ll never think of beetles in quite the same way again! I’m very much looking forward to the next instalment, Beetle Queen, which will be coming out soon.
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