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Nick of Time (Nick McIver Series #1)
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Nick of Time (Nick McIver Series #1)

4.3 74
by Ted Bell

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Here at a last is a new novel in the great tradition of grand adventure tales, the likes of which have seldom been seen since the works of Robert Louis Stevenson. This epic adventure is the story Nick McIver, a lad who sets out to become ‘the hero of his own life'. The setting is England, 1939, on the eve of war. Nick and his sister Kate live in a lighthouse on the


Here at a last is a new novel in the great tradition of grand adventure tales, the likes of which have seldom been seen since the works of Robert Louis Stevenson. This epic adventure is the story Nick McIver, a lad who sets out to become ‘the hero of his own life'. The setting is England, 1939, on the eve of war. Nick and his sister Kate live in a lighthouse on the smallest of the Channel Islands. Nick, Kate and their father are engaged in a desperate war of espionage with the German U-boat fleets that are circling the islands prior to invasion. The information they provide daily to Winston Churchill is vital as he tries to warn England of the imminent Nazi invasion. In a surprising twist, Nick discovers an old seachest sent to him by his ancestor, Captain Nicholas McIver of the Royal Navy. Nick returns to the year 1805 via a time machine and help save Captain McIver and, indeed, Admiral Nelson's entire fleet from the treachery of the French and the mutinous Captain Billy Blood. In the climactic sea battle with Captain Blood, Nick's love of the sea, and his feats of derring-do, indisputably prove his courage and heroism. His sister Kate, meanwhile, has enlisted the aid of two of England's most brilliant detectives, Lord Hawke, and Commander Hobbes, to thwart the Nazis. They prove themselves more than a match for England's underwater enemies, when they discover the existence of Germany's super-secret experimental submarine. In the end, Nick and Kate prove themselves heroes in the eyes of two of England's greatest warriors: Admiral Nelson and Winston Churchill.

Author Biography: Theodore Bell is the Vice Chairman and Worldwide Creative Director of Young & Rubicam, one of the largest advertising agencies in the world. Over the course of his career, his writing has won every top creative prize the industry bestows, including Clios, One Show Gold Awards, and a number of Bronze, Silver, and Gold Lions at the prestigious Cannes Festival. Bell has authored a number of screenplays, one of which was optioned in Hollywood. Nick of Time is Mr. Bell's first novel. He is currently hard at work on his second novel.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Keri Collins Lewis
The son of a lighthouse keeper, Nick McIver is one of a long line of McIvers who have navigated Greybeard Island's rocky reefs, from Gravestone Rock to the treacherous Seven Devils. When a mysterious sea chest washes ashore one day while Nick, his trusty dog Jip, and his little sister Katie are out exploring, a series of adventures begins, for locked inside the chest is the Tempus Machina, one of a pair invented by Leonardo Da Vinci. The small golden orbs can transport people through time and space, but unfortunately, the other time machine is in the hands of Captain William Blood, a ruthless pirate who has wandered the globe for centuries snatching children away from their parents and demanding ransom. When Blood arrives on Greybeard Island seeking the second Tempus Machina, Nick must brave the fortress of Castle Hawke to obtain the help of a reclusive nobleman who has his own score to settle with the pirate—rescuing the two kidnapped Hawke children. Set in 1939 in the outer islands of pre-war England, the bulk of the book's chapters alternate between Katie's collision with Nazis patrolling British waters in a highly sophisticated submarine, and 1805, where Nick and Lord Hawke help Nick's great-grandfather battle Captain Blood and aid Nick's hero, Admiral Lord Nelson, by warning him of a Spanish plot to trap his fleet. Author Ted Bell, well-published in the adult fiction market, includes vast amounts of historical and nautical detail, which add realism to the highly imaginative and action-filled tale. The story's primary weakness is the constantly shifting points of view, which too often puts the reader in the minds of adults. In the end, it is not Nick and Katie who trulyvanquish the enemies and have the final word, but the larger cast of grown-ups who populate the story. Reviewer: Keri Collins Lewis
KLIATT - Cara Chancellor
The two men appeared seemingly out of thin air, miraculously dry despite the storm howling outside the inn. For Nick McIver, though, this mystery is just one of many. In the past week, he has accidentally uncovered a notebook revealing his father is spying on the Nazis for Winston Churchill, witnessed a secret Luftwaffe flight over his own Greybeard Island, England, and then found a 150-year-old Royal Navy sea chest that somehow looks brand new. When it becomes apparent that the two strangers are willing to secure the chest's contents—a time machine created by Leonardo da Vinci—by any means necessary, Nick is forced to choose strange allies and travel back in time to an 18th-century naval battle in order to save his family, his country, and himself. While Bell's narrative never lacks for excitement, the reader will sometimes feel as though the sum of this story's parts is simply that: parts of other stories that have been packed into a full-length novel. However, for younger readers for whom cannonballs and top-secret German submarines trump occasional plot bobbles—such as Nick's ancestor sending a letter from the past after giving up the time machine—this book will become an instant adventure classic. Reviewer: Cara Chancellor
School Library Journal

Gr 6-9- This is an immensely appealing book about 12-year-old Nick McIver, son of a lighthouse owner, who lives on Greybeard Island off the coast of Great Britain in 1939. Opening with a thrilling near-fatal sailboat excursion, the action kicks into high gear when Nick finds a sea chest containing a mysterious glowing globe. Hunted by pirates from the past who seek the globe, a time-travel device, Nick finds himself bouncing back and forth in time fighting exceedingly nasty pirates, Napoleon's naval forces in 1805, and Nazi spies in 1939. Nick is the pluckiest, most likable boy-hero since Robert Lewis Stevenson's David Balfour (Kidnapped ). With great battle scenes; lots of nautical jargon; and themes of courage, integrity, and honor, this book will appeal to restless boys who can never find books written just for them. Three huzzahs and a great big 21-gun salute to Bell for his first novel for kids. Hopefully, it won't be his last.-Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK

Kirkus Reviews
The author of several Ian Fleming-style thrillers for adults reworks his lengthy self-published 2000 debut into a windy, labored and even longer doorstopper. On the eve of World War II, 12-year-old Nick receives an appeal for help from a Napoleonic-era ancestor about to get blown out of the water while trying to get vital information to Lord Nelson. The desperate message comes with a portable time machine, so off Nick hies to 1805, leaving his six-year-old sister paired with a hypercompetent inventor/British Intelligence Officer to capture an experimental Nazi supersubmarine. Linking the twin plotlines is Billy Blood, a vicious pirate with another time machine and a penchant for holding wealthy children from various eras for ransom-aboard, conveniently, the very French warship that is attacking Nick's ancestor. Needless to say, after extended sea battles Blood is foiled (but not killed, so look for sequels), the children rescued, the sub captured and the dispatches delivered, all amid many gaps in logic and massive contrivances. Bell should have left this one in his sea chest. (Fantasy. 11-13)First Printing of 100,000
From the Publisher

Nick of Time is an American Classic.” —Glenn Beck

Nick of Time is a blast--the best of Robert Louis Stevenson, Horatio Hornblower and Harry Potter. The kid in me loved it, and so did the adult.” —James Patterson

Nick of Time takes young readers on a thrilling historical voyage . . . definitely not for the faint of heart.” —Los Angeles Times

“An immensely appealing book. Three huzzahs and a great big 21-gun salute to Bell for his first novel for kids.” —School Library Journal, Starred Review

“This old-fashioned adventure adds a new twist to elements of Treasure Island, Horatio Hornblower, and ‘Indiana Jones' . . . Every middle school boy (and many girls, too) will relish joining Nick on his heroic adventures. Charming and thrilling, this book could become a classic with its good, clean, swashbuckling fun.” —Voice of Youth Advocates

“Bell's narrative never lacks for excitement . . . for younger readers . . . this book will become an instant classic.” —KLIATT

“A brilliant adventure, hidden within a rolling saga, tucked inside an intriguing mystery. That's Nick of Time. Ted Bell proves that he's the master of swashbuckling for both young and old.” —Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The Amber Room

“In an adventure many times his size, Nick travels time to defeat both Napoleon's plot and a secret experimental Nazi submarine in this vibrant and enchanting book.” —Jordan Weisman, co-author of the New York Times bestselling Cathy's Book

“Wow! Some books sweep you away. Nick of Time amazed me, dazzled me, and swept my imagination off to sea. . . . I've been craving an adventure story with a good mystery, and this arrived in the nick of time to rescue me.” —SchoolLibraryJournal.com

Nick of Time is one heck of an adventure! Filled with colorful characters, non-stop action, scary pirates, nasty Nazis, technically advanced submarines, rousing old-time sailing ships, thrilling battle scenes, heart-pounding sea voyages and nail-biting espionage, this story has it all. . . . If you are looking for a thrill and a new hero, this is it.” —TeenReads.com

Nick of Time reminded me of Brian Jacques, one of my favorite authors. Everything clicks together perfectly . . . I really like the era and technology of World War II, especially the ‘secret weapons' . . . the whole pirate thing really appeals to me . . . The time travel idea is cool, and what's even better is that da Vinci created it!” —Henry Willshire, age 13

New York Times bestselling author of The Amber Roo Steve Berry
A brilliant adventure, hidden within a rolling saga, tucked inside an intriguing mystery. That's Nick of Time. Ted Bell proves that he's the master of swashbuckling for both young and old.
co-author of the New York Times bestselling Cathy Jordan Weisman
In an adventure many times his size, Nick travels time to defeat both Napoleon's plot and a secret experimental Nazi submarine in this vibrant and enchanting book.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Nick McIver Series , #1
Product dimensions:
5.94(w) x 8.38(h) x 1.45(d)
950L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter II * 3 June 1939 *
"That boy," Emily McIver said to herself, "is the most unreliable boy in all of England!"
"Where is that child?" she added, half aloud, for at least the tenth time since he'd missed his supper. "Honestly!"
Worriedly brushing s tray wisp of honey-colored hair back from her brow, she pressed her nose once more against the steamy kitchen window. Masses of purple clouds had been gathering in the west for the last hour and now heavy drops of rain were spattering hard against the glass. First real storms of the summer, she thought, plunging her hands into the hot soapy water, pulling out another supper plate. It looked a blow and of course her son was right out there in the think of it, as usual. Missed his supper again. Soaked to the skin. Chilled to the bone in the bargain.
Emily tried to push her rising worried over her only son down to a place where she could control them. Only a little wind, wasn't it? He'd certainly come through worse, hadn't he? Had his oilskins on, hadn't he? Oh my, look at that lightning! Heat lightning. Summer lightning.
Summer had come at last to this smallest of four little islands stuck out in the English Channel. Although they were English isles, fiercely held for many centuries, they lay very close to the coast of France. The names of many streets and villages were still French, but the islanders were loyal only to England. Greybeard Island, the smallest, was famous for having more cows than people. And the fact that there was not a single car. The few people who lived here were hardy seagoing folk, now mostly farmers and fishermen. True, nothing much ever happened here. Still Emily thought it the loveliest place; the rocky coasts, the rolling pastures, and now, of course, the glorious roses. Emily had joyously announced summer's arrival in her journal that very morning: After an icy winter and a cold, wet, spring, the sun has suddenly rained warmth down on our little green island. The summer of 1939 is here at last! Every lane has a leafy green roof vaulting overhead, every field is carpeted with buttercups and periwinkles, and in every orchard clouds of white petals float to earth, then swirl in eddies beneath the boughs, and drift up against the gnarled and twisted trunks of the trees like snowdrifts. Roses, too, climb once more to the rooftops of the little stone cottages scattered hither and thither across our tiny island, as if some giant has just flung out handfuls of them and then, overnight, picket fences and flowerbushes spring up just to bind them to earth!
Even this old lighthouse, she realized with a shudder of pleasure, home to the McIver family for generations, was once more wreathed in great spirals of heavy roses. The "Tower Roses" they were called, and featured on the cover on the island guidebook, weren't they? Emily cracked the kitchen window a bit to inhale the blossoms' sweet perfume, the scent of rain and roses wafting in on the wet air.
Emily leaned forward again, peering intently through the darkened kitchen window. She saw only veils of rain along the empty path leading down to the harbor. Where is that boy? She wondering for the hundredth time. But she knew well enough where her boy was.
Well, at least little Kate isn't out there with him, Emily thought with some relief. No, her daughter was snug and safe up in her warm bed, recovering from a nasty bout of measles. Otherwise, sure as daylight, she would have been out there tossing about on that boast. Her husband Angus, however, was out in this dreadful storm tonight on a silly errand to-A sudden noise behind Emily almost made her jump out of her slippers, and she dropped a supper dish with a terrific splash into the soap water.
"Goodness!" she cried, spinning to see her kitchen door fly open. Two dervishes, whirling in on a gust of wet wind, one a twelve-year-old boy, one a loudly barking black retriever hard on the boy's heels. "Two demons out of the night and what a start you've given me!" she cried, vainly trying to brush the soapy water from her apron.
"Close that door! Can't you see there's rain blowing in!" Inside she breathed an enormous sigh of relief at the sight of her boy safely home.
"Only me and Jipper, Mum!" said Nick, leaning all of his weight against the heavy oak door. "Not late, are we? See, we got caught in this bit of a blow and we-Jip! No, boy, don't!" Nick cried, but it was too late.
Nick, who knew he had trouble enough already, watched his big black dog walk over to where his mother stood and violently shake every drop of water from his body in her direction, a shaggy, four-legged rainstorm.
"Why, thank you, Jip!" Emily said, brushing this fresh deluge from her apron. "Lovely! I'm glad to see you haven't forgotten your manners, either! They're just as terrible as they've always been! Just look at this mess, will you, Nick!" "Just being friendly, Mum, isn't he? Happy to be home?" He tried a smile but couldn't quite get it right. "That means he's glad to see you. He's sort of waving at you, see, in dog language?"
Emily McIver put both hands on her hips and bent from the waist, scowling at her boy, now standing in the puddle of rainwater he had created in her kitchen. "Nicholas McIver! Don't think you can charm your way out of this one, boy! Third night this week you've missed supper! And look at you!" she said, shaking her finger in his direction. "And look at my sorry floor as well, will you?"
Nick dutifully looked at himself, his mother's apron, and the puddle, and had to nod in mute agreement. His shoes were squishing water, and his normally curly blond hair was plastered to his skull. He was late again, he'd made a sopping mess of the kitchen, and the chances of a nice hot meal were decidedly slim. He was ravenous. He was entirely ravenous after a hard day on the water.
The remains of a beautiful roast joint of beef caught his eye.
"Sorry I'm late, Mum." he said, picking up the heavy pewter platter that held the roast. "Why don't you turn in, and I'll just stow all these messy supper dishes for you? Least I can do, really, isn't it?"
Emily took the platter right out of his hands. "Good effort, Nicky. Shameless, but good all the same. Supper in this house is exactly half past two hours ago, I'll remind you! This roast is bound straight for the strew pot. Take a turnip and a carrot or two if you like and then to bed with you."
She held out a bowl of freshly peeled vegetable and Nick stuffed his pockets to dispose f them later. He hated carrots only slightly less than turnips. Maybe Jip would eat the stuff. At least they wouldn't both go hungry.
"This time it wasn't my fault, Mother," he said, unable to take his eyes off the pungent roast beef. "There was a terrible blow, you see, and Jip and I-I apologize. We both do."
"Truly. Well, you and Jip can do your all of your apologizing to each other. Up in your room and it's lights out for the both of you," Emily said, spinning him around by his shoulders and marching him toward the stairway. "Along with you!" Jip, you as well!"
Nick paused at the foot of the stairs. "May I ask you one serious question first, Mum?" he asked, his heart suddenly catching in his throat. "Would you say I'm a boy who frightens easily?"
"A boy too clover and too brave for his own good, I might agree with," Emily said. She turned to look at her son over her shoulder. "But then, I'm only your mother. What does a mother know? Do her feet hurt from standing? Do her roses have aphids? Does her heart ache with worry every time her little boy is out in a terrible storm?"
"I am sorry, Mother. Really I am," Nick said. "It was scary, though, out in that blow."
"Tell your mother, Nicholas. Why you're always so afraid of being frightened? It is the most natural feeling a boy can have."
Nick cast his eyes at the rain-streaked kitchen window, struggling to keep his emotions in check.
"Because I think a boy is not supposed to be afraid! The boys I read about in books are never afraid of anything! But I was afraid, out there today, twice! Twice in one day! Why, I guess I'm nothing more than a measly, sniveling old c-coward!" He sat on the bottom step and swiped away a tear.
"You're not a boy in a book, son, you're just a normal boy. And, being afraid, that's only normal for-" "I tried, you know! Oh, I tried all right. But I just couldn't get Petrel to windward of the Gravestone, and I-" Nick paused, as the memory of that terrible moment came flooding back. "I-I knew our only chance was to try and ride the storm surge in over the reefs, you see, and just then a huge wave hit us broadside, knocked us right over on our beam ends and I thought that Jipper, I thought poor Jip had been-" Nick felt hot salty tears welling up and quickly looked down at his dog. If he ever truly wanted to be a hero, it clearly wouldn't do to have his own dog and his mother see him going all leaky over a few big waves.
"Come here, Nicky," Emily said. Nick rose unsteadily and went to her, grateful to feel his cheek against her starchy, sweet-smelling blouse, a safe place where no one could see the tears of utter relief at still being alive flowing down his cheeks. How he'd longed for the safety of these same arms when the giant rock was looming. "And, what was the second frightening thing, son?" she asked, gently patting the top of his sodden head. She felt the boy finally stop trembling and held him to her. "Besides the terrible storm?" "Oh. W-well, that one wasn't so bad, Mother, he said, finally calming down. "It was about noon, I guess. Jipper and I were tacking north around Hawke Point. And then the sky suddenly got all black and thundery, you see, and we thought it was a storm coming. But it wasn't, not yet anyway. No, it was masses and masses of heavy aeroplanes! Bombers! They flew directly over the Petrel's masthead! They were quite low, Mother, it was deafening, really, and Jip and I ran up on the bow to shout hurrah and wave to our boys, but, you see, they weren't our boys, Mother. They all had big swastikas painted on their fuselages and wings-they were German!"
"German! They didn't drop any bombs on you and Jip, did they, darling?" Emily asked with a smile. "That would be frightening."
"No, they didn't drop any bombs," Nick said, smiling back at her. "And we waved at them anyway, see, and a few even waggled their wings back at us, as if we were friends. That scared me the most."
"I think you're a very brave boy, Nicholas McIver," Emily said, giving him a brief peck on the top of his head. "But brave boys don't get to be brave men unless they're a bit clever, too. Be clever enough to be afraid when you need to be, won't you, Nick? Now, along with you. To bed."
"Is there really going to be a war, Mum?" Nick asked, reluctant to leave her side. "With the Nazis? The Germans, I mean?"
"We've all had quite enough of war for one century, thank you. There shan't be another."
"But, Father says-" "Nick, listen to me," she said, holding him away from her and looking into his eyes. "Some people, your father for one, believe what Mr. Churchill says. That war with Germany is unavoidable. I choose to believe what our prime minister, Mr. Chamberlain, says. My brother, Godfrey, as you well know, spends his every waking hour by the prime minister's side at Number Ten Downing. He sees all but the most top-secret documents and he's convinced the Nazis have no interest in war with England. I've always believed your uncle and I believe him now. Isn't that simple? Now. To bed, and no delay!"
Nick looked at his mother. He prayed that it was as simple, as black and white as she portrayed it. His uncle Godfrey, as secretary to the PM, would certainly know, wouldn't he? "Mother, I'm sure you're right. But may I at least tell Father about-" "Your father's not here, dear," Emily said, putting the last dried dish on the shelf. "He had an emergency meeting of his beloved Birdwatcher's Society." She chuckled at the notion of an emergency of any kind here on peaceful little Greybeard Island. What possible emergency could drive a flock of birdwatchers out on a night like this? Birdwatchers, indeed, Emily thought.
"Oh, Nicky, before you tuck in, bring Mummy's spectacles down, won't you? I left them up in your father's study, on his desk, I believe. And stop poking your great-grandfather's belly, Nicholas, you'll just make him worse!"
At the foot of the curving staircase, that led to the very top of the lighthouse, hung a portrait of a McIver ancestor that Nick greatly admired. The long dead admiral over the hearth had a jagged hole in the center of his great belly and Nick loved to stand on tiptoe and jab his fist through the old man's stomach. No one was quite sure how the gaping hole had come to be there, but everyone had their story about the admiral with the hold in his belly. Surely there was some grand adventure behind the painting and Nick loved to stick his fist through his ancestor's perforated paunch every time he bounded upstairs.
"Sorry, mum," he said, giving the old admiral one last jab to the midsection. "Dad's birdwatching again? Imagine watching birds on a night like this anyway!" Nick said over his shoulder, and bounded up the stairs, now much comforted by his mother.
Yes, just imagine, Emily chuckled to herself. "Birdwatcher's, ha!" she said half aloud and collapsed into the well-worn overstuffed chair that sat next to the kitchen hearth. It had been a long, tiring day. She looked forward to falling asleep by the softly cracking kitchen fire with her needlepoint on her lap. Angus would wake her upon returning from his "birdwatching."
It was, after all, the silliest thing. It was a good thing she loved her husband so dearly, or she'd never have been able to forgive his newest passion. The "Birdwatcher's Society!" Climbing all over the island with their little telescopes and their fat black binoculars. Mud smeared on their faces and bit of leaves and branches stuck in their headgear. And always staring out to sea, they were. Waiting for the Nazis to come. As if the Nazis cared on whit for three or four little English islands tuck in the Channel! Closer to France than England and inhabited mainly by cows! Imagine, she thought, chuckling to herself. All hail Adolf Hitler, King of the Channel Isles, Chancellor of Cows.
"Nicholas?" Emily cried, still chuckling to herself and kicking an errant little ember back onto the hearthstone. She turned and shouted up the empty stairwell. "Will you please bring me those glasses? You know I can't do a stitch without them!" There was no answer. Where is that boy? She wondered, for what seemed like the thousandth time that day.
Upon entering his father's study at the very top of the stairs, just below the ladder up to the great light itself, the first thing Nick had noticed was his father's old leather flying jacket. It was hanging on the back of his chair. Slipping into the timeworn garment, which he greatly coveted, he collapsed into his father's desk chair, running his hands over the silver wings pinned to the jacket breast. A hero's jacket, Nick thought, looking down at the bright wings. His father had been wearing it the day his Sopwith had been shot down, crashing n flames in the Ardennes Forest. Angus McIver had escaped from the burning plane, but had lost the use of his right leg doing it. He'd never flown again after that terrible day and even now, twenty years later, he could only walk with the use of a stout cane.
But he'd returned from the Great War to a hero's welcome on little Greybeard Island, hadn't he, Nick thought. Oh, yes. No doubt about it. A true hero, whatever that was. All Nick knew was that he wanted to be one in the worst way possible, he thought, picking up his father's old brier pipe and clenching it between his teeth just the way his father did. Did he have the stuff it took to be a hero, he wondered, chomping on the pipe stem? Was he brave enough? Strong enough? Smart enough? Well, why trouble yourself, he guessed. He'd probably never get the chance to find out, living on a little island stuck smack in the middle of nowhere. His own father had taken to watching birds, for goodness sake. That's how starved he was for excitement.
Now, what was his mission? Oh, yes! Mother's reading glasses. Where were they? He felt around, pushing the little piles of books and paper to and fro. He plunged his hand into a little alcove in the center of the desk, full of old pens and pencils. Perhaps she'd put them-Hold on!-his fingertips had brushed something cold protruding from the very back of the alcove. It felt like, it was, a button, and not just any old button, either. A secret button! Naturally, he had to push it.
With a mechanical click and a soft whirring noise, a drawer abruptly appeared just above the little alcove. Just slid straight out, it did, like an unexpected invitation. It was quite the most amazing thing, and no mistaking it, to be suddenly confronted with what was plainly a secret drawer. His natural curiosity immediately go the better of him and he stood up and peered inside.
Lying at the bottom of the drawer was an old logbook that someone obviously wasn't meant to see. It was a faded red leather binder with the words MIGRATORY BIRDS stamped in gold on its cover. Well, mystery solved, Nick said to himself. It had something to do with his father's Birdwatcher's Society. He carefully lifted the heavy binder from the drawer and examined it closely. It was curious, he thought, because although is father had loved flying, he had never given a fig for birds, at least until recently.
Feeling the slightest twinge of guilt, Nick opened the thick volume and began thumbing through its yellowed pages. And it was immediately apparent that, indeed, his father was no secret bird fancier. As he rapidly skimmed the book, he saw that every day his father was carefully noting the daily comings and goings, the "migrations," of every single German vessel moving through the Channel! The "migratory birds" were nothing less than the great German liners, merchant vessels and warships steaming out of Hamburg and the Rhine and migrating across the Channel! His eye falling to the bottom of the page, he saw this startling notation in his father's hand.
Documentation delivered: First March 39, 0900 hrs, believed Alpha Class U-boat sighting vicinity Greybeard Island bearing 230 degrees, west, increased activity all sectors day and night. Thor acknowledge and forward W.S.C.
Thor? The beautiful power launch he'd seen slipping in and out of the harbor these last few weeks? And who, or what, was W.S.C.?
Adding to the deepening mystery, Nick saw that there was another secret or two hidden in the drawer as well. Although he could scarcely credit it, at the back of the drawer there was a nickel-plated Webley & Scott revolver, .45 caliber. Picking it up carefully, Nick noticed that it was loaded. His father owned a gun, a loaded gun? Setting the heavy revolver down gently atop a stack of papers, he took a deep breath and reached into the drawer again. The gun had been lying atop a packet of letters, bound with red ribbon. Nick removed the letters, thinking, "in for a penny, in for a pound." Each envelope had the word "Chartwell" engraved in the upper left-hand corner. Each was addressed to his father, Greybeard Light, Greybeard Island. He dared not open a single one, though he was powerfully tempted.
Chartwell, Nick knew from the newspapers, was the name of the country house in Kent that belonged to Winston Spencer Churchill! Yes, yes, grand old W.S.C. himself! Nick, struggling to contain his excitement, carefully returned everything to the drawer just as he'd found it. First the packet of letters from Churchill. On top of the letters, the loaded pistol. And finally the heavy leather binder. Hold on, had the title been facing him, or away? Away, as he remembered. At the slightest pressure of his fingertips, the secret drawer slid silently shut, locking with a soft click. Staring fixedly at the spot where the drawer had simply disappeared into the desk, he saw his mother's little gold-framed eye-glasses on the shelf just above. He picked them up and placed them absently in his shirtfront pocket.
Breathing hard and feeling slightly dazed, he walked over to stand at one of the many large curved windows that overlooked the channel in every direction. There was a flash of pure white brilliance as the great lighthouse beacon swept around just above him. The storm had by now moved off to the east, over the coastal fields of France. It was still lighting up the sky with crackling electricity, but it was nothing compared to the currents flowing through young Nicholas McIver at that very moment. Maybe he'd been wrong, he thought. Just moments ago he'd been feeling sorry for himself, stuck out here on a rock where nothing every happened. Well, something was happening, that much was sure.
He looked own at the vast black top of the Channel, stretching away now under a moonlit sky. As usual, there was no shortage of the thin white trails, scribbled across the Channel's surface in an eastward direction. But now they seemed to have acquired vast importance. Now he knew what they were. They were German submarines. They were the dreaded U-boats, slipping out of Germany and beneath the waves of his peaceful Channel, perhaps toward England. If his father and W.S.C. were correct, of course.
He shuddered at the little chill of fear, and the sudden sour taste of tobacco in his mouth reminding him that his father's pipe remained clenched between his jaws. His own father, who built sturdy little sailboats that never leaked, and who laughed and told funny stories when he tucked him into his bed every night, was a spy! This man who tended roses on summer days and recited Wordsworth on wintry nights was a spy! One who kept a revolve-a loaded revolved-in a secret drawer and who was by all account engaged in this secret espionage on behalf of the great Winston Churchill himself. His own father! It was the most wonderful thing imaginable. Maybe he could scare up a little adventure on this old island after all! "Mother!" he cried at the top of his lungs and racing down the stairs three at a time, "Mother, I've found your eyeglasses! Isn't that wonderful?"

Meet the Author

Ted Bell is the New York Times bestselling author of Nick of Time and The Time Pirate, as well as the bestselling Alexander Hawke series. For many years he was a leading talent in advertising, and won numerous Clios and Cannes Gold Lions and the Cannes Grand Prix. He began his advertising career as a copy-writer at Doyle Dane Bernbach in the 1970s. In 1991, he joined Young&Rubicam, one of the world's largest advertising agencies, as Vice-Chairman of the board and World-Wide Creative Director. Bell retired from advertising in 2001 to write full-time. He lives in Florida and Colorado.

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Nick of Time (Nick McIver Series #1) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 74 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow! Some books sweep you away. Ted Bell's Nick of Time amazed me, dazzled me, and swept my imagination off to sea. The interweaving of pirate adventures at sea with the threat of German U-boats pre-WWII was accomplished so skillfully that I yearned to join them traveling through time. Ted Bell's descriptions were so vivid, I could picture every scene in full-color. With the exciting action scenes, I ignored the outside world to focus on this incredible tale. The history was so enticing, I found myself pouring through WWII texts on England's preparations for war, Churchill's struggles, and maps of the islands. I wanted to experience sailing and its dangers as Nick was able to do. Curse my landlocked childhood! I curled up with this book last weekend while battling the flu, but even the flu couldn't keep me away from the pages of this story. I was compelled to keep reading until past midnight. The last line of the story gave me hope for many more sequels. Please, Mr. Bell, may I have some more? I know you have written books for adults, but this title was truly amazing and I want to experience it again. Someone will be snatching up the rights to make this into a film soon! Give us hope that the sequel is on it's way. The message of heroism in Nick of Time has clung to me this week. I keep reviewing scenes and conversations from the story. Who are my heroes? What if I could travel through time to meet them? Would I have anything to offer them? Are there small roles in history that we could play that would impact others? How many of us could act as well as seven-year old Kate? Also, what has become of the villain Billy Blood? Where will he strike next? Middle school students are going to be so hooked by this book. Perhaps I should change to being a MS librarian just so I can help boys in particular find this book. Don't worry girls, you'll love this as much as I did and there is plenty to ponder after you're finished reading. Just don't think you can read only one chapter before breakfast. I tried and glanced up 80 pages later to wonder what had happened and where I'd been. I've been craving an adventure story with a good mystery and this arrived in the nick of time to rescue me. Nick of Time will be released in May, 2008... read the next great book for kids.
Swedey More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book as a gift. I have been told by my nephew that he loved the book and would enjoy more from the same author. Also he gives the book 5 stars for thrilling, story, absorbing,writing, Cover art and characters.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Set in 1939, NICK OF TIME is about young Nick McIver and his adventuresome spirit.

Nick loves to sail and be out on the water with his trusty dog, Jip. He loves it so much that he often loses track of time and comes home late for dinner, which irritates his tough yet loving mother. One night, Nick also discovers that his father is no ordinary lighthouse keeper. He's also a spy for England. What would become World War II was brewing, and Nick joins his dad in his efforts of spying for Nazis.

This story has a lot going for it. The writing is excellent, the story includes sailboats, Nazis, submarines, secret castles, mysterious villains, pirates, squawking parrots, dogs, cats, spies and, as the title implies, travel through time. The one downside is that it takes more than one hundred pages to get to the time travel promised by the title.

Nevertheless, it's a fun story, full of adventure and suspense, with a dose of history thrown in.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A modern day Treasure Island with a great 12 year old hero!! This book will delight any and all readers but boys 9 and up will absolutely eat it up! Pirates, Nazi submarines, and a dramatic sea rescue of kidnapped children. What a great read and a perfect break for all kids (and moms and dads, too) who are 'wild about Harry'!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book for everyone, but most especially for boys. Not only is it historical and teaches many historical facts overlooked in school, it teaches values like courage and persistence. It is entertaining for both boys 10 and over and all adults. I read it along with my grandson, and we compared notes each night. He wants to read it again, because he knows he may have missed some important little clues to the entire plot. Great writing. Wish Ted Bell would write many more like it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reading this book I felt like I was back in time, a time when books were full of not only adventure, but values such as courage and love of country and boys who were self- reliant and wanting to be heroes! In my view, it's a classic in the making! It may sound old-fashioned but believe me, it isn't! One of the most exciting adventure stories I've ever read. And I am not exaggerating even a smidge. Clearly written for youngsters but this oldster loved it!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bought this book for my 12 year old nephew and sat down to read a chapter to make sure it was 'clean' enough to gift - it is. Got hooked and ended up reading the whole book myself over the weekend. Enjoyment of the book requires an imagination as the time travel and constant non-stop adventures go well beyond reality. However, the characters are well-developed, the plot is fast moving, the historical elements are informative, and each of the short chapters leaves the reader wanting to know what happens next. I think some of the nautical vocabulary and historical context are likely beyond pre-teen knowledge but the story will delight.
harstan More than 1 year ago
As Europe flares up with the latest continental war this time between the allies and the Fascists, twelve years old Nick McIver and his younger sister Kate live with their father in a lighthouse on Graybeard Island, one of the Channel islands. The Nazi U-boats surround their island while their father tries to get important information to the War Office in London. Meanwhile Nick finds a chest containing an odd plea from a long dead ancestor. Apparently Royal Naval Captain Nicholas McIver is in trouble, but has critical information that Lord Admiral Nelson needs. The message accompanies a handy time machine that enables Nick to go back to 1805 to help his antecedent. --- As Nick goes back to the Napoleonic Era, Kate joins Lord Hawke and Commander Hobbes as they try to steal an experimental Nazi submarine. At the same relative time in both eras, pirate Billy Blood uses his portable time machine to abduct the children of wealthy parents from various periods that he takes to his French warship he demands exorbitant ransom if they want their brats back. In 1805 he is about to kill Nick¿s relative in 1939, he considers kidnapping Nick¿s sister. --- Ted bell¿s fine young adult thriller is an engaging preadolescent time travel fantasy in which readers will root for the McIver pair to be in THE NICK OF TIME to save England at sea TWICE a century and half apart. The sea battles are incredibly descriptive in both periods so much so that the audience can compare the navies. Although the non-stop action twists reasoning in order to keep the escapades going, no one will care as readers will cheer on the fully developed young champions while hissing that diabolically bloody pirate. --- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
From its striking dust cover art to its beautiful binding and print, this middle-grade adventure story has it all: boats and the sea, pirates, castles, Nazis, and time travel. It has everything a young reader could want. The writing is crisp, clear, and practically flawless. Description and scene setting put the reader in the middle of things where he or she is immediately drawn into the adventure with the leading characters, Nick and Kate. As the story progresses, more and more actors are sprinkled in until a full host are moving the story faster and faster forward toward a roaring climax. Action never stops in the great novel which rivals Robert Lewis Stevenson's Treasure Island in size and scope. The author covers this book's sometimes rapid point of view changes with seamless transition and skill seldom seen in a beginning writer.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is cool. Period. When you're done reading all the Harry Potter books, check this out!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Their is amasing stuff in this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be captivating from the first page. The reader is pulled into the adventures of Nick and his friends, and kept at the edge of your seat with every turn of the page. Bell has created an adventure for both young and old. I personally can't wait for the next installment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For those who love childhood adventure books that you can read when old, this fits both bills!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The series is one i like to read again and again.
InTheBookcase More than 1 year ago
&quot;Nick of Time&quot; is an epic novel for readers of any age. Author Ted Bell wrote it for kids, but adults would find it a fascinating read too. This is the story that Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island) could have written if he lived in our generation. The first chapters light upon twelve-year-old Nick McIver, the son of the lighthouse keeper on a little English island. The year is 1939. Trouble is stirring from Germany, and someone needs to spy on what the Nazis are doing. As young Nick begins to learn of the disturbing things happening above him in the air, and below him in the sea, he becomes concerned for the well-being of England and its people. Who is truly safe from the Nazis' efforts? Nick can't just sail away from these problems on his clipper, like he so enjoys doing. This time, he's in it for the fight, no matter where it takes him. Next is the leap into time travel! It's an exciting aspect of the book, which takes the reader away from the beginning of World War II and into a time much earlier, where there's a large problem to solve at sea, and not much time to escape. Will Nick's new comrades (AKA &quot;scientific detectives&quot;) be able to help him get back to 1939 in one piece? Aside from the Nazis, Nick has inherited his very own personal enemy --- who is a pirate, no less. Not just any pirate either, but one who can travel through time. Nick is kept on his toes, never knowing from which direction that the infamous William Blood may appear from. So many great characters are featured in this book! I wish I could tell you about Gunner, Commander Hobbes and Lord Hawke, but you'll have to read the book to find out about them. I truly think the author did such a wonderful job with describing his characters. Although a decidedly masculine cast takes the spotlight, there's one little girl who simply shines. Kate, Nick McIver's little sister is an adorable sweetheart, who fits in so perfectly with the action. She's smart for her age, and may as well take on the entire German Gestapo with her charm. The only con that I found in the entire story is that it does include violence --- more so that most juvenile novels might have. Then again, this adventure isn't quite like any other juvenile novel either. It's that good. Other notes: The audiobook with John Shea as narrator is the perfect listening material on a rainy day. &quot;Nick of Time&quot; is an exciting nautical adventure, filled with peril, wit, and the element of surprise. I can hardly wait for the sequel, &quot;The Time Pirate&quot;.
2silverspurs More than 1 year ago
To long. I liked the idea of the book and what the author wanted to put across, but the book was way too long and in some instances, boring.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gr8 book so much adventure
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it. It was soo good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book. Ive read it abot 10 times now Cant wait for my kids to read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book for the whole family!One of the best books ever that contains history!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago