Siobhan Dowd’s The London Eye Mystery, published by David Fickling Books in 2008, is a novel set in London.
Aunt Gloria and Salim are visiting Ted and Kat’s family in London. Salim is Ted and Kat’s cousin. He and his mother are leaving Manchester, England, and preparing to move to New York City. During their visit, Salim wants to ride the London Eye, the great Ferris wheel attraction in the heart of the city. A stranger approaches them offering one free ticket. Since Salim is visiting from elsewhere he is encouraged to accept the ticket. Ted and Kat watch Salim board the ride. After thirty minutes, the Ferris wheel stops and everyone steps off except Salim. He has disappeared. But how is this possible when he was sealed inside one of the pod-like compartments of the Eye?
Ted and Kat’s parents believe there must be a logical explanation for Salim’s whereabouts. After a few upsetting hours, they call the police and they treat the situation as a crisis, which fits perfectly with Ted’s talents and capabilities.
Ted, who has Asperger's syndrome, is a master of figures and facts, statistics and phenomena. He has no trouble understanding complicated systems such as the weather. He has encyclopedic knowledge of all weather phenomena, clouds, and forecast measures. However, when it comes to understanding people and social interactions, Ted has trouble. People are difficult for Ted to “read.” Ted’s counselor gives him a chart for reading facial expressions so that he may function better in social situations.
In the midst of the family’s emotional reaction to Salim’s disappearance, Ted can only function by using his detachment to his advantage. He cannot interpret nor predict the behavior of the people around him, but he can use his talents to help solve the mystery. Through the course of the plot, readers will gradually notice clues for developing theories as the characters also come up with their own theories.
Critics admire Dowd’s realistic and intriguing plot. Critics note, however, that the mention of a child’s kidnapping for “sex stuff” may be disturbing for a younger readership. The mystery as a whole is well-constructed, and readers undoubtedly will enjoy piecing together the clues.