The Guggenheim Mystery ISBN: 9780141377025
Published by Puffin, 2017
When Siobhan Dowd wrote 'The London Eye Mystery' about a boy with Aspergers, she intended a sequel, but cancer intervened, and Siobhan died before the book had anything but a title. Robin Stevens has taken on her idea and produced a second novel about Ted Spark, who is 'twelve years and 281 days old' at the beginning. Ted and his fourteen year old sister Kat are about to embark on a trip to New York to visit their cousin Salim and his mother, the effervescent Aunt Gloria, who has become a curator at the Guggenheim Museum. Ted and Kat's mum is coming along too, and all are excited at the prospect. The story (as in the first book) is told by Ted himself and we are therefore able to understand his quirky mind and how he thinks. In trying to understand all that goes on around him, Ted has to think things through carefully, rather like someone who is learning a second language must think before speaking every word. People's expressions must be interpreted rather than just understanding what they are feeling by the look on their faces, and figures of speech give him difficulty, even though he has learned that they don't mean exactly what is being said. The adventure begins very soon after their arrival in NY. When Aunt Gloria takes them to visit the Guggenheim where she is in charge of hanging an exhibition of Kandinsky's work, smoke suddenly fills the area, and the museum must be evacuated immediately. During the interval when everyone is out, one of the paintings, worth $20 million, is stolen. The police arrest Aunt Gloria for the theft, but in spite of damming evidence, the three children are quite sure she cannot have done it. The solving of the mystery is up to them, and in the next few days they travel around NY on the tube, interviewing people who were working in the museum at the time. It is Ted's unusual mind that sees things others don't who ultimately solves the mystery with the help of Salim and Kat. Stevens obviously knows NY and the subway system remarkably well, and her knowledge of the Guggenheim is equally remarkable. The adventures of the three children are really exciting, and Ted's response to the noise and clatter of a big city get him into trouble - one time even getting lost! All is well in the end, and mum, Ted and Kat return on the plane with Ted telling us that he has changed. While his mind will always be unusual, he has learned to deal with the noise and traffic of NY and that it now doesn't feel like he 'is about to disintegrate into approximately a billion pieces. My hand flapped, but that was only for reassurance. I had travelled all over New York, and that quest had changed me.' He is growing up and learning to cope with his different-ness, and this will be of real service to those who, like Ted, are having to learn to cope too.