A month or two ago I blogged about MURDER IN THE LIBRARY and mentioned a novel on display there, THE LONDON EYE MYSTERY, that sounded intriguing. I’ve read it now and thoroughly enjoyed it. When twelve-year old Ted and and his older sister, Kat, watch their cousin Salim get on board the London Eye, he turns and waves as he gets on. After half an hour it lands and everyone gets off – except Salim. He seems to have disappeared into thin air. Ted and his older sister, Kat, try to get to the bottom of what has happened. Ted,though,is no ordinary twelve-year old. He has Asperger’s syndrome and as he says: ‘this is how having a funny brain that runs on different operating system from other people’s helped me to figure out what had happened.’If you think this sounds a bit familiar, it’s because it was Siobhan Dowd’s bad luck to have an original idea – novel narrated and crime solved by boy with Asperger’s – and be pipped to the post by Mark Haddon with THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT. She put her novel aside and it was published later after she had brought out her first children’s book, A SWIFT PURE CRY, which won a couple of awards and was short-listed for others. I think THE LONDON EYE MYSTERY really is one of those novels that can be enjoyed by young people and adults alike. There is a cracking mystery with terrific characters, a satisfying solution and a twist that I didn’t see coming. It’s funny and touching amd very well written (knocks J K Rowling into a cocked hat). I recommend it and if you do buy it you’ll be supporting a good cause. Before her premature death in 2007, Siobhan Dowd set up a charity to support the joy of reading for young people in areas of social deprivation and all her royalties go to it.
If you find yourself near the British Library with some time to spare, they have a small exhibition called MURDER IN THE LIBRARY, which is well worth a look. It’s free, too. It’s arranged alphabetically, beginning – of course! – with A for Agatha. Other categories include R for railways, N for Nordic Crime, G for Golden Age, T for True Crime, Q for Queens of Crime, and L for Locked Rooms. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is mostly the art of the dust jacket that is on display, but it reminded me of some old friends and gave me some ideas for future reading. Siobhan Dowd’s young adult novel, THE LONDON EYE MYSTERY, sounds intriguing: someone disappears from one of the pods on the London Eye. It is a variant of the locked room mystery and I am rather tempted to have a go at one of those myself, not as a full length John Dickson Carr mystery, but just as a short story. After the exhibition I had a look round the book shop and was pleased to see that they had a selection of crime fiction, including THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST BRITISH CRIME 10, which has just come out. At £7.99 for 42 stories, it is very good value. I have to declare an interest as it contains one of my stories, ‘Vanishing Act.’ I am in distinguished company: Lee Child, Ann Cleeves, Neil Gaiman, Martin Edwards, Simon Brett, among others, are represented. My own feeling is that really good short stories are rarer than good novels. They won’t all be to everyone’s taste, but there are some crackers in here.