VIADUCT by Roy Brown


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All the Bensons were railway people, but engineer Ebenezer Benson was ""a bit of a genius"" who should be in the history books with George Stephenson, Granddad avers. And he made money, still unaccounted for. Searching in Ebenezer's high narrow house by the viaduct, Granddad has found only an old trunk with papers he can't read; then Granddad dies, and Uncle Ernest thirsts for the treasure. By Granddad's choice and by predisposition, Phil is the heir: at ten he has the deceptively peaked look of the Bensons, and he is a dreamer. With pragmatic friend Andy, he slips the papers away under cover (of the rumbling trains, of a discarded chest of drawers) to their hideout, then--in a brigade of prams commandeered by soft/ tough Molly Perkins and with Uncle Ernest's spies watching--to Mr. Horace Felix, railway enthusiast and admirer of Ebenezer. He will decipher the spidery hand. . . while Granddad's stories and Phil's own guesses merge in dreams that draw Phil to the site of Ebenezer's secret . . . the locomotive, the Stormrider, that Ebenezer deprived his family to build, then abandoned, blaming himself for the death of son Jamie. But how explain the lost penny that turns up, new and yet old? Hardy children, flawed adults, a seedy neighborhood--each has presence and a closely-held pride. Like A Saturday in Pudney (1967, 1471, J-539), engaged and engaging; though it starts more slowly, it has a deeper focus in Phil's identification with his forebears.

Pub Date: Oct. 7th, 1968
Publisher: Macmillan