I first read this book when I was ten after buying it from the Scholastic book catalogue that we used to come home from school with and I read it again this year in preparation for adding it to a list of my current top ten books.
There are so many elements that combine to make this a great book. A mystery to be solved, the hundredth anniversary of a devastating flood, summer holidays, houses with secret entrances and secret rooms, possible treasure, a serial burglar, disguises, surveillance, board game design shenanigans, a family struggling with economic realities and a boy who cries, “Wolf!” Or does he? All of these components sound like overkill but they come together to create a terrific story with a realistic ending.
This book is thirty years old now and it’s indicative of another time when twelve-year-olds could roam the streets of their home towns having adventures on their summer holidays. This book set me on a path of loving similar (although more grown up) books with mysteries and their eventual solutions without inevitable happy endings.
I’ve had this on my shelf for twenty-five years and I intend for it to remain there for fifty more. And while it might not stand up in comparison to some other books I’ve rated five stars, it holds a special place in my heart for setting me on a varied and wonderful reading journey.
*First published on Goodreads 18 June 2015