The Lost Property Office - James R. Hannibal

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?

This book is super fun. It's a young reader's version of the TV series, Warehouse 13. There's action, adventure, sarcasm, and a grand conspiracy. Jack's ability to "commune" with certain minerals allows him to see the past in order to figure out age-old mysteries. With the help of Gwen (and Shaw, to some extent), Jack tries to trace his father's last steps and find the Ember, which has been stolen by the Clockmaker in order to exact a twisted revenge on millions of inhabitants of modern-day London.

I had the privilege of hearing Hannibal speak at an event, and it was quite interesting to hear him discuss synesthesia (both his own experience and how he worked to incorporate the condition into the experiences of his main character.) Jack is able to see smells, hear colours, and such, making him ideally suited (within the realm of the novel) as a Tracker, able to track down clues and follow leads that others would be unlikely to pursue.

The narrative is well-paced, and the main characters are strong (though Gwen, and Jack's sister, felt somewhat under-developed). I found myself quite caught up in the story early on, the secrets and mysteries coming fast and furious. This is the first part of a series, and I think it has a lot of potential. I do hope the synesthesia angle gets further explored in future books, as it was somewhat superficial in this particular instalment. That being said, this is definitely a great book for young readers!


(NOTE: This review is from an Advance Reading Copy - Nov. 8, 2016)


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