Wednesday, 19 November 2014

"The London Eye Mystery" by Siobhan Dowd

Image source
I first encountered the work of Siobhan Dowd when I was a judge for the Bisto Book of the year, now titled The CBI Book of the year.  Her debut novel, A Swift Pure Cry, blew us all away with its beautiful and emotionally charged prose, and its tragic and fragile main character, Shell. 
I then read, Solace of the Road, about another troubled teenager, albeit in a different era.  And more recently, I reviewed The Ransom of Dond, with stunning illustrations by Pam Smy.
I love the work of Siobhan Dowd, and Robert Dunbar's recent "Top 50 Irish Children's Novels" in Inis magazine prompted me to hunt down Dowd's remaining titles.
The London Eye Mystery particularly interested me because it is the only Dowd title pitched at Middle Grade readers.  The premise is immediately captivating.  MC, Ted, visits the London Eye with his cousin Salim.  Salim gets into a pod and Ted watches it make its half hour orbit through the sky.  But when the doors of the pod open again, Salim has vanished!  Ted, with his big sister Kat, become intrepid detectives, and set out to solve the mystery, as their parents, aunt and uncle crumple under the stress of the situation.
The London Eye Mystery is a good old-fashioned detective story, and the short chapters and pacey plot will be enough to hold the interest of any child of 10+.  But more notable than the plot, is the character of Ted.  A child, clearly on the autistic spectrum, makes for an unusual MC.  The boy, whose brain "runs on its own unique operating system", has trouble dealing with the simple things in life, but is perfectly equipped to see what the adults (including the police!) can't.  His logic and obsession with meteorology make for amusing scenarios and interesting perspectives.
Dowd's observation skills and writing are impeccable throughout and I find it hard to flaw anything about The London Eye Mystery. 4 stars.


  1. Speaking of autistic MCs, CC user Patoooo's wife at the very least began writing a story where one of the protags is a woman somewhere on the autistic spectrum (supposedly, Aspergers, but not the kind smarmy ill-tempered people use to excuse themselves for being tactless). Blessing Shepherd is the name of this MC, and her PoV is amazing. -I- couldn't get enough praise for the writing.

    I don't have experience with Aspergers or the like, so I won't vouch for the writing there to be accurate to the real thing. It does however create a compelling character. I hope her story will be continued.


    1. Interesting. Actually, I think the MC of "The London Eye Mystery" has Aspergers. Comparisons have been made with Mark Haddon's book but apparently this title was written before "The Curious Incident".

  2. Oh, gosh. Another stack of books to put on the nightstand! K

    1. Dowd's own story is tragic too. Set to be a literary superstar, she died after publishing only 3 books (I think). The rest were published after her death.