It’s a measure of the new significance of young adult fiction that a book as ambitious as Simon Mason’s has appeared. Running Girl weighs in at nearly 500 pages, but Mason comprehensively buys this length and demonstrates time and again that he has the measure of this tricky genre; never making unnecessary concessions to his youthful readership (and certainly tacking subject matter that would have been considered inappropriate a decade or so ago). What’s more, Mason writes with an authority that makes the book compelling reading for an older reader. His boyish hero, Garvie Smith, may be charming and intelligent, but is prone to lack of direction — until a girl named Chloe Dow disappears and energises the normally inactive Garvie. The protagonist here is a wonderfully multifaceted creation, but then so are the adult characters in the book, such as Detective Inspector Sigh, determined to make a success of his first murder investigation. Mason’s past experience as an editor has stood him in good stead for this richly realised novel.
Running Girl by Simon Mason is published by David Fickling Books