The Lost Property Office by James R. Hannibal
Review by Lauren
source: copy from BEA16; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: Thirteen-year-old Jack Buckles is great at finding things. Not just a missing glove or the other sock, but things normal people have long given up on ever seeing again. If only he could find his father, who has disappeared in London without a trace.
But Jack’s father was not who he claimed to be. It turns out that he was a member of a secret society of detectives that has served the crown for centuries—and membership into the Lost Property Office is Jack’s inheritance.
Now the only way Jack will ever see his father again is if he finds what the nefarious Clockmaker is after: the Ember, which holds a secret that has been kept since the Great Fire of London. Will Jack be able to find the Ember and save his father, or will his talent for finding things fall short?
Review: Jack Buckles is in London, England with his mom and sister in order to look for his father, who has gone missing on business. Jack doesn’t think there is hope, but his little sister Sadie does. When Sadie runs off, believing to see their father, Jack follows and they soon find themselves at The Lost Property Office, where they meet Mrs. Hudson and Gwen Kincaid.
This book has a lot of Sherlock Holmes references, which I really loved! They were all pretty basic, though, so you don’t have to know a ton about Holmes to catch them. While this is an MG novel, I would highly recommend it for older readers too, as I really did love it. It’s a quick read, but it’s also full of imaginative and historical elements that capture your attention throughout.
The main plot of this book is that Jack learns he’s a Tracker, someone who can sense history in stone and the like and is good at finding missing things. He’s given the task to find the Ember by the Clockmaker, or else his father will be killed. Neither Jack nor Gwen, his lovely sidekick, knows what the Ember is, but the Clockmaker’s clues lead them to realize it has something to do with The Great Fire of London. All of the details about the Great Fire were fascinating to read about, and I love that this moment in history is getting a bit of a twist in an MG novel. Hopefully it will lead some readers to want to know more about the official event.
As for the characters, Jack and Gwen are a good match for each other. Jack can sense history and see clues, but for the most part, Gwen is the one who pieces things together and leads them on the right track. They really are a bit like Sherlock and Watson, but also I’d say Harry Potter and Hermione Granger. While these are the main characters in the novel, they are surrounded by a mix of eclectic secondary characters who I enjoyed getting to know as well!
The Lost Property Office is a fairly quick, enjoyable read! It’s full of history, suspense, family/friendship, and even a little bit of magic! This is the first in the Section 13 series, and I will definitely keep reading!