Smart is the boy who finds the body in the river. Smart because he realises it is no accident, but rather murder. Kieran is the smart boy who does not give up when there are no clues, like on CSI. And life has more problems than you can shake a stick at. Problems like secrets, and politeness skills and why his mum hides her bruises. School is difficult but home is harder and some adults can be trusted but others have a different set of rules. He is lucky to have some friends like the Homeless Lady, L.S. Lowry (deceased) and The Boy Born During Wartime.
Kim Slater's first novel is an accomplished mystery that sets a child who does not fit in on a search through the backstreets and down the towpaths of a city riven with poverty, unemployment, petty brutality and whatever survives in a society in danger of losing its soul.
Suggested age 11+
Similar territory - Louis Sachar, Mark Haddon, R.J. Palacio, Cotterell Boyce, John Boyne