James R. Hannibal presents a thrilling adventure through history, complete with mysteries, secret items, codes, and a touch of magic in this stunning middle grade debut.
Thirteen-year-old Jack Buckles is great at finding things. Not just a missing glove or the other sock, but things normal people have long given up on ever seeing again. If only he could find his father, who has disappeared in London without a trace.
But Jack’s father was not who he claimed to be. It turns out that he was a member of a secret society of detectives that has served the crown for centuries—and membership into the Lost Property Office is Jack’s inheritance.
Now the only way Jack will ever see his father again is if he finds what the nefarious Clockmaker is after: the Ember, which holds a secret that has been kept since the Great Fire of London. Will Jack be able to find the Ember and save his father, or will his talent for finding things fall short?
With his father missing and feared dead, 13-year-old Jack Buckles and his family have traveled to London in search of answers. He finds them with Gwen Kincaid, a 12-year-old clerk at the Lost Property Office, part of "a secret society of detectives that has served the Crown for centuries." Jack discovers that his father is a member of this Ministry of Trackers, and Jack has tracker abilities, too: he is "hyper-observant" and synesthetic, and his brain can pull memories from minerals. To save his father from an evil Frenchman, Jack and Gwen must find a mysterious jewel called the Ember. Their quest takes them to famous sites throughout London, which is one of few highlights in an otherwise convoluted story that, while creative in concept, suffers from overwriting. Adult author Hannibal (the Nick Baron series) belabors the mystery component of this first book in the Section 13 series; wordy descriptions of the scenes where Jack "sparks" on memories from minerals and Gwen's repeated ignoring and belittling of Jack's questions both cause the story to drag. Ages 8 12.