Hidden messages, ambiguous clues, cryptic hints and double entendres crowd chockablock into this puzzle mystery.
Time, and Thymes, play central roles. In line to become the 25th Laird of Thyme, Justin is a 13-year-old scientific genius whose redoubtable mother, Lady Henny, is kidnapped in the wake of discussions with his (seemingly) amnesiac father about actually building a time machine. His ruminations about time travel (conveyed in handwritten notes between each chapter) dovetail with strange arrivals—notably a (seemingly) senile old man who may be long-missing grandpa Lyall Austin Thyme—and investigations that turn up a wealth of suspects in his mother's disappearance. Along with odd timepieces, red herrings galore and images of clue-bearing ransom notes, postcards and email messages, the author chucks in a comically diverse supporting cast. This is led by a sullen, lovesick gorilla and a new cook fresh from the “Café Roman à Clef” in Paris, who in one memorable scene serves up anatomically correct gingerbread men (“You not likings nuts?”). A kidnapper who remains unidentified and at large at the end, a newly minted time machine/motorcycle begging to be tried out and the strong “all is not as it seems” atmosphere throughout pave the way for sequels.
From dust jacket (which purportedly contains clues to the pseudonymous author’s identity) to closing page of disguised notes, a pleaser for fans of reading that requires decoding. (map, cast list) (Fantasy. 11-13)