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The last time I wrote about a children’s book was last Christmas, but I could not resist reading this one, because it was by Linwood Barclay, an author I had admired in adult fiction. I was not disappointed. If you wanted a book to intrigue youngsters, putting a boy with a dog at its centre is a sure-fire way to success. This is exactly what Barclay has done, but he has added another element -fantasy. This means he can hook young readers with different bait, and he certainly lands his catch right up until the ending which is …”to be continued”. How clever is that?

Jeff Conway had been left an orphan when his scientist parents had been killed. He lives now with his aunt, who uses this twelve-year-old to help her around her caravan park, way beyond his years. He hates this, but discovers later on that it would stand him in good stead, when Chipper, the dog, comes into his life. Chipper is not an ordinary dog, for there are forces at The Institute (the White Coats), which are experimenting with animals in an extraordinary way. Chippeer’s escape sends them into a panic, so “the chase” begins in deadly earnest. Any young reader will find this novel a thrilling chase indeed, and will be longing for the next instalment, promised by the clever Linwood Barclay. CHASE by LINWOOD BARCLAY

PUBLISHED by HACHETTE for a recommended $14.99