It all starts when Ted's cousin Salim comes to visit. Salim and his mother are about to move to New York City and have planned a family visit in London before their departure. Of course, what is a visit to London without a ride on the London Eye. That's when the trouble begins.
Ted and his older sister Kat haven't seen much of their cousin in the past. The visit starts out on a wrong note because of the unusual sleeping arrangements required by their tiny house. Kat is unhappy about bunking on the couch, and Ted is unhappy with the disruption of his whole routine. As Ted explains, he suffers from a "syndrome" which he defines by stating that his brain runs on "a different operating system" than everyone else. His judgment of other people's emotional responses is a bit off, and his views of the world around him tend to be quite literal. (I'm guessing that he suffers from some form of autism.)
Salim turns out to be quite a pleasant visitor. His only request is to take a ride on the London Eye, a massive ferris wheel attraction in the center of London. When the cousins and their mothers arrive at the Eye, they find the ticket line and actual ride line disappointingly long. Relief comes when a stranger offers one ticket, free of charge, to Salim. Ted and Kat eagerly accept the ticket and pocket the original ticket money from their mother as they rush Salim to the waiting ride.
The mystery begins when Salim doesn't disembark from the London Eye at the conclusion of his ride. Was he kidnapped? Did he actually go on the ride? How could he have vanished so completely?
THE LONDON EYE MYSTERY is a must-read mystery for middle grades and up. Quirky characters, London scenery, and a who-dun-it style combine to make this a sure hit. Siobhan Dowd, author of A SWIFT PURE CRY, has outdone herself once again.
NOTE: I recently learned that Siobhan Dowd passed away in August of 2007. Her talent will be missed.