Ted and his sister, Kat, wave to their cousin, Salim, as Salim gets on the London Eye. Half an hour later, Salim’s pod comes back down – but there’s no sign of Salim. Their parents, Salim’s mom, and eventually the police start looking for the missing boy, but no one is really listening to Ted and Kat – nor are they paying attention to the most interesting part of the mystery: that Salim disappeared from out of a sealed pod. Naturally, this means that the kids must launch an investigation of their own.
It’s a pretty clever mystery, but that’s not why the book stands out: it stands out because of the autistic narrator. Ted’s Asperger’s Syndrome (presumably; instead of naming it, it’s just called “my Syndrome” or “what he has,” which I find rather annoying) means that he sees the world differently; we see his constant struggle to interpret social cues, facial expressions, and body language. We also see him making connections that no one else does – and thus solving the mystery. It’s very well done, but I found my (non-autistic) brain getting really tired from trying to wrap itself around a different way of thinking.
I really want to say something here connecting the experience of reading The London Eye Mystery – and, therefore, being immersed in an autistic way of thinking for 300 pages – to how people with autism are constantly immersed in a society that, collectively, has a non-autistic way of thinking. I’m not sure I can actually do so without seeming presumptuous – even having read this book, even having autistic acquaintances, I really don’t know what it’s like to be autistic, and I don’t want to pretend that I do. So I’ll leave it to you to draw inferences, in whatever way works for your brain.