An English schoolboy hones both wits and breaking-and-entering skills after the family butler enlists him for a series of dangerous secret missions.
Oliver, 12-year-old scion of the head of Diplexito Engineering and Combustibles Ltd., is stunned to learn that the forbidding Mr. Scant is a mysterious burglar popularly known as the Ruminating Claw—for the bladed mechanical contraption he wears on one hand. This revelation is followed by mounting excitement as the white lad learns that Scant is really engaged in returning artifacts stolen from various museums by a secret group of would-be mages known as the Woodhouselee Society. Better yet, Scant wants him along to help! Ensuing nighttime outings to the British Museum and elsewhere give Oliver not only an eyeful of awesome martial feats from Scant, but heartening tests of his own previously untried courage as dust-ups with baddies led by cleaver-wielding giantess Valkyrie build to a climactic imbroglio featuring dirigibles (this is 1910, with some alterations) and a heavily armed “land ironclad.” A last-minute ally named Cai Zhao-Ji and some of the aforementioned bad guys, who belong to the Asian Tri-Loom crime syndicate, are the only characters of color. Methods’ fights are the sort in which there’s always time for dialogue, combatants don’t die or even bleed when they’re wounded, and the deadliest adversary abruptly withers under a good scolding.
The fight choreography needs work but otherwise, a promising debut and series opener. (Fantasy. 10-12)