TITLE: THE LONDON EYE MYSTERY
AUTHOR: SIOBHAN DOWD
Details: Juvenile Fiction 9 – 12
Read for One Cavan One Writer
At 11.32 in the morning Ted and his sister Kate watch their cousin Salim get on board the London Eye. Half an hour later the pod empties, but Salim isn’t in the group of people exiting.
Soon the police have been warned and theories are flying around. Did Salim run away, was he kidnapped, didn’t he spontaneously combust (Ted’s favourite) or did something else happen.
As the police have no luck locating the young teenager, Ted and Kate overcome their differences and start at track across London, trying to put together the clues and find their cousin themselves. Ultimately it will be down to Ted’s very special brain to solve this mystery.
This is a delightful story. Ted is a young boy suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome or as he says it himself: It’s like the brain is a computer (…). But mine works on a different operating system from other people’s. And my wiring’s is different too.”
Dowd succeeds in showing the ways in which Ted is different from other children without turning him into somebody who should be pitied. And because Ted is the hero of the story, the one ultimately able to solve the mystery while all others around him, the police included, are still in the dark, the author shows that differences should be cherished and used to their best advantage rather than made fun of.
The author has Ted himself explaining how he is different from others and how he manages to make sense of the behaviour of people around him. The dubious pride he takes in managing to lie three times, and even starts a file to record his lies made me smile. And somehow I feel I know more about weather conditions and changes now then before I read the book.
There are some similarities between this book and Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, but there are several differences too.
The boys in the stories have their own specialities and quirks. And this book is aimed at a younger reader, which is good because it is important to teach children about the differences there are between people at as early an age as possible.
And Ted’s syndrome isn’t the only issue dealt with. Divorce as well as race issues also feature in this book. And yet, this story never feels heavy handed or preachy.
This is a very well written book, containing a wonderfully plotted story and realistic characters. I read that this book was to be the first in a series. It is such a shame that the author’s untimely death has made sequels impossible. It is a loss that will be felt by readers of all ages.