Ringmaster by Julia Golding and read by Adjoa Andoh (December 2008, AudioGO, ISBN:9781405654944)
First Line: Looking back, the day had started like any other.
Review: Ringmaster is the first in a soon to be three book adventure series featuring fourteen-year-old Darcie Lock. Darcie is the daughter of a British diplomat and his American wife and they are currently living in Nairobi, Kenya. Darcie attends the international school but on her return one day she finds her house empty. Her mother is abroad but there is no sign of her father or the servants and when she rings the High Commission she is told that Michael Lock no longer works there. And then she is told someone will come for her.
Darcie's life, with all that she thought she knew for facts, is turned upside down when she is recruited by the British security service to help find her father. All she has to do is get herself invited to her classmates' homes and ask a few questions - a low risk operation. But things don't go to plan and it's up to Darcie to save herself, her family and a British royal prince whilst outwitting racists and power-hungry politicians.
This was a very enjoyable listen. Darcie is an engaging character who is very much a tomboy; she plays football and has no time for fashion. She is resourceful and quick-witted. She has an SAS minder, with a dry wit, for some of the book and they have a great rapport with some amusing banter. The story becomes nail-bitingly tense towards the end and the expert plotting means that things that happened earlier in the book become relevant to a successful conclusion. Ringmaster also provides a look at a community of people from different nations and political ideals, who have been thrown together in a unsettled country.
I sought Ringmaster out on audio on two counts. First it is written by Julia Golding, whose first outing as Joss Stirling - Finding Sky - was a favourite read of mine of 2010 and secondly, the narrator is Adjoa Andoh. I have listened to many of her narrations and Ms Andoh can do no wrong in my ears. In this case she expertly conveyed a younger voice for Darcie and she has many accents at her disposal. She is the voice of Alexander McCall Smith's Mme Ramotswe on audio, which I adore, (and Martha's mum in Doctor Who), and I wish that the next Darcie Lock book, Empty Quarter, was available on audio book and narrated by her.