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Fly the Eye
on 6 November 2008
What goes up must come down - unless you're Ted Sparks' cousin Salim.
Aunt Gloria and her teenage son Salim are preparing to move from Manchester, England to New York City. Before they leave for the United States, Gloria wants to visit her sister and her family in London. Salim has never been to London so his cousins Ted and Katrina are eager to show him the sights.
They decide to visit one of Ted's favorite places, the London Eye. The London Eye, also called the Millennium Wheel, is the tallest ferris wheel in Europe. When they arrive at the Eye, there's a long line for tickets. After a stranger approaches Ted, Kat and Salim to offer his ticket, the kids decide that Salim should take it and "fly the Eye" on his own. Ted and Kat track Salim's capsule during its half hour ride, but when the capsule comes down and people file out, Salim is nowhere in sight. Was he kidnapped? Did he run away? Did he spontaneously combust (one of Ted's eight theories)?
After their parents contact the police, Ted and Kat decide to launch their investigation into their cousin's disappearance. Ted has Asperger's Syndrome, a form of high-functioning autism. Since his brain works on a "different operating system", Kat and Ted think they may have an advantage over the police investigators. Can Ted's unique perspective help them find Salim before it's too late?
I found The London Eye Mystery to be an interesting, fast read. It is not without some flaws, however. Ted and Kat withhold vital evidence from their parents and the police (such as Salim's camera and information about the stranger who gave Salim his ticket). I never get past my disbelief that they would withhold so much evidence when their cousin was in a dangerous situation.
Where The London Eye Mystery really shines, though, is in the character of Ted Sparks. Ted is a fascinating, sympathetic character. His Asperger's Syndrome was well-portrayed and consistent with what I know of Asperger's. Dowd did an effective job of showing how Ted deals with his social challenges. Dowd also showcased the positive aspects of Asperger's Syndrome: Ted is extremely intelligent, honest and free of prejudice. It's obvious that a lot of research was put into his character. The London Eye Mystery was worth reading for Ted's characterization alone.