The Murderer’s Ape


Chief gifts Sally Jones a broken typewriter. Once repaired, the typewriter becomes the method by which Sally describes her courageous story to clear Chief’s name. Sally Jones, ship’s engineer, flight mechanic, button sorter, accordion maker, spy and chess maestra, is a gorilla. She hears and understands, writes and reads. She is also the only witness on the night that Alphonse Morro goes missing, presumed drowned. Chief, Sally’s friend and companion, is framed for his murder.

Sally is left in a dangerous position. A lone gorilla in Lisbon? Who can she turn to? Who might she trust? From the Lisbon fado concert halls, within the ships’s engine room, to a Maharah’s palace, she fights against treachery and lies for Chief’s cause. Sally is determined discover who and why he has been set up.

‘The Murderer’s Ape‘ is unlike any other story that I’ve read. It is a true classic. The adventure is rich and magical, the geography of Sally’s experiences unpicked like a National Geographic landscape. We can smell the musical instrument oil, the engine rooms, the slick of the Maharah’s bathhouse. ‘The Murderer’s Ape‘ is a book I shall be urging every reader toward!


The Murderer’s Ape

Jakob Wegelius, translated from the Swedish by Peter Graves

(Pushkin Children’s Books)

Sally Jones considers that if she and the Chief had taken the tram to the police station, things may have turned out differently. When Alphonse Morro offers them a job with an overly generous payment, Sally and Chief are excited, yet skeptical. Sally details that night, and the story of how she and Chief met and worked and lived. She continues to  explain what happens once Chief is framed for murder. Sally is the only witness to the whole fiasco. She holds the key to the truth. Yet Sally Jones, ship’s engineer, accordion maker, flight mechanic, chess maestra is a gorilla.

August Prize for Best Children’s Book and the Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize; Mildred L.Batchelder Award



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