Book: The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle
Author: Catherine Webb
Meet Horatio Lyle, amateur scientist and professional Special Constable. He’s been asked (by people who have a hard time taking no for an answer) to investigate a recent break-in at the Bank of England. The object of most concern is the Fuyun plate, a Tibetan artifact valued at no more than 200 pounds, but with “cultural significance.” The British government would like it back, please, and they’re surprisingly insistent.
With the help of Tess, (an irreverent street thief he caught breaking into his house one night) Thomas, (the son of the man responsible for the Fuyun Plate when it was stolen) and Tate (a dog), Lyle will chase all over Victorian London on the trail of the Fuyun plate. Along the way, they’ll meet some truly nasty characters who’ll do anything to get their hands on the Fuyun plate first.. Maybe Lyle should ask which culture finds it significant . . .
The first review I read of this book mentioned that it’s one of those rare young-adult books which doesn’t actually star a young adult. Tess and Thomas are both fifteen or thereabouts, but the star of the story is Horatio Lyle. I would put him at no younger than his mid-twenties, and probably older. Still, I agree with that reviewer that the appeal is most definitely teen or even scientifically-minded about-to-be-teen.
This book reminded me forcibly of Philip Reeve’s Larklight. It’s just good, clean, slightly kooky fun. Things go boom, people are chased and kidnapped and make Faraday wheels out of entire cathedrals, sidekicks wisecrack and bicker. If this were a movie, it might be a Bond flick, albeit one that stars Q instead. If you like a rollicking good time, pick up Horatio Lyle.