Lloyd Jones, Rob. Wild Boy & the Black Terror. Candlewick Press 2015 327p $16.99 ISBN 978-0-7636-6253-0 ms/jr Mystery/Detective VG-BN
This is a wildly creative novel about a villain who hopes to poison all of London and Wild Boy, a former circus freak (owing to hair that grows all over his body) with extraordinary abilities in solving crimes. It would be a toss-up as to which quality of Rob Lloyd Jones’s writing is more powerful: his descriptions of climate, locations, time periods and characters; his excitingly vivid plot with its continual and seamless conflicts; or his ability to weave words together to create intrigue. The plot begins with a reminder that Wild Boy already has the reputation of being a monster, and as with most rumors, his reputation has been blown out of context. Wild Boy’s sidekick, Clarissa, is herself a former circus performer, and the two have teamed up for life. Their mentor is Marcus, a member of the Gentlemen, a secret group that protects London. The new crime? A demonic force has the capability of rendering its victims fearful as they slide into death. This demon is attempting to find a black diamond, of which only four remain, thus avenging some atrocity that occurred in India years before. When Queen Victoria’s servant, Prendergrast, opens a package meant for the queen, he becomes the first victim of the demon. As the rising action progresses, Marcus is also hit with the disabling poison. Wild Boy and Clarissa have to save him, and the only way they can do that is to track all evidence to the perpetrator and get a sample of his blood to create an antidote. Three men stand out as being capable of this crime. Readers will particularly enjoy putting together the evidence to figure out who is trying to avenge past deeds by terrorizing London.
Summary: Wild Boy and Clarissa must use their unusual abilities to save London from the Black Terror, a poison that turns victims’ fears into nightmares before they die. Wild Boy must find rare black diamonds to catch the demonic force known as Malphas.
Crime-Fiction --Martha Squaresky