November 30, 2006

A Mystery Wrapped in a Scientist

This book is a 2006 Cybil Award Nominee for YA Fiction.

It's not every day that a house gets broken into by a master thief... and the master thief is asked to stay on as part of the household. In Victorian England, during the Industrial Revolution, there were places for thieves... workhouses, poor houses, and gaols. However, in the world of Horatio Lyle, a Special Constable to the queen and an avid scientist, people are seen as opportunities. Lyle needs an assistant, and he agrees to work with the sleight-handed thief, Tess, for a week. The week, as it turns out, runs a bit longer, and a bit more dangerously than either of them expect. First, Her Majesty's aides come to call, and Horatio has to turn aside from his own experiments with acids and tubes to track down something missing from the vaults of the Bank. Then, it turns out that the something comes with other complications. "Bigwigs," as Tess refers to them snidely. People of wealth and importance who are dead set against Horatio Lyle having anything to do with the case. When a mild-mannered woman turns into a gibbering madwoman and tries to end Horatio's life at knifepoint, Tess and Horatio know they're on the tail of an incredibly fast-paced, dense and hair-raising mystery. They grow closer as friends as they try to keep at least a step ahead of all of The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle.

I won't spoil the ending, but this is a book which grows in momentum as you go on. The first few chapters might seem a bit dense, and readers may struggle to keep track of names and characters, but the setting is superb, and Tess is a kick. An enjoyable, thoroughly engrossing read from start to finish, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel.

*Note: This book may not yet be available in the United States. Hang in there -- it'll make its way across the pond soon!

3 comments:

a. fortis said...

Ooh! I may want to borrow this one...

tanita s. davis said...

Ack! I'd let you, but I had to send it on to Connecticut!! It was sent to YA Fic wrongly -- it's very obviously Fantasy or a scientific world with a twist that presupposes a number of sci-fi types of things. Either way, I'm going to get the sequel from the UK; I'll just reorder the first one, too. The author is only... sigh... twenty-one.

a. fortis said...

Oh, sigh.

On the other hand, if anything I'd written at the age of 21 had been published, I'm sure I'd be very embarrassed by it now, so for me this is probably a good thing...