Gone in the blink of an Eye
One of the top mysteries of the year in the middle-grade category is The London Eye Mystery, which takes readers on a page-turning spin. Twelve-year-old Londoner Ted and his older sister, Kat, are thrilled that their Aunt Gloria and cousin Salim will be visiting them before relocating to New York City. It's not Big Ben or Buckingham Palace but the Eye, "a giant bicycle wheel in the sky," which their cousin wants to tour. While the aunts chat over coffee and Ted and Kat wait below, Salim accepts a ticket from a stranger, rides in one of the capsules, but never exits with his fellow passengers. Although Ted has a "syndrome," presumably Asperger, which causes him to count his Shreddies in the morning, meticulously track the weather and have difficulties reading body language, he joins forces with his more typical boy-crazy, status-conscious teenaged sister to solve Salim's disappearance. They track down witnesses, re-evaluate clues and work through Ted's nine theories of the case (although, a few, such as spontaneous combustion, can be easily eliminated).
While this novel is primarily a baffling mystery, Ted's first-person narration and literal thought processes also provide insight into his brain's unique circuitry. His clever yet often naïve voice and his longing to belong and be accepted into a world so different from his own will endear him to readers. They will even cheer when his mission to find Salim forces him to tell not one but two lies, a step toward "normalcy." Two heads—or rather neurological systems—prove better than one, as Kat's persistence and Ted's logic combine to solve Salim's disappearance and save him from a horrific fate. Siobhan Dowd's posthumous mystery (the author died in 2007) is a nail-biting ride of suspense that proves that differences can be gifts.