The Guggenheim Mystery
By Robin Stevens
Published by Puffin
ISBN 978 0 141 37702 5
Ted Spark is 12 years and 281 days old. He has seven friends, and he likes everything to have order and a pattern. He sees things slightly differently from the people around him, but this does not worry him: he just accepts that his brain works on a different operating system to everyone else’s.
Sometimes, Ted’s inability to read social situations can be frustrating for everyone else, but his faultless memory and great ability to apply logic, not emotion, to problems can be very useful.
Experts have decided that Ted suffers from a form of autism which means he panics in unfamiliar situations. He is also easily confused by other people: he always accepts what they say literally, but they don’t always mean what they say. He finds this very weird.
Ted was introduced 10 years ago in a YA novel, The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd. But Dowd sadly died before she could begin her planned sequel, The Guggenheim Mystery. With only the title to work from, Murder Most Unladylike author Robin Stevens took up the challenge laid down by the Siobhan Down Trust to write it. There could not have been a more fitting successor.
Ted’s Aunt Gloria has a new job at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and so Ted, his mum and his sister cross the Atlantic to visit her. Ted isn’t too keen on leaving his London comfort zone, and is nervous about the challenges New York will present. And sure enough, within a few days of being there, Ted is faced with another mystery to solve.
On his first visit to the museum, the fire alarm goes off and the building is evacuated. But during the ensuing chaos, a priceless modern painting goes missing, and all fingers point to Aunt Gloria.
Stevens sets up things up quickly and cleverly, and soon Ted, his sister Kat and cousin Salim are chasing all over the city, following clues to prove Aunt Gloria’s innocence. Stevens perfectly captures Ted’s personality and unique way of seeing the world. And of course, with her experience as an author of YA mysteries, she is excellent at plotting, and dealing with teenage detectives. The whodunnit puzzle at the centre of the story is one of Stevens’ best so far.
As she has shown with her Unladylike series, Stevens is an expert creator of setting, whether it’s a 1930s girls’ boarding school, an Orient Express type train, or an English country house, and brings New York vividly to life here.
Wherever Ted’s next mystery takes him, Stevens is the perfect writer to take him there.
John Millen can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org