Jack and Gwen are back in this dynamic follow-up to The Lost Property Office.
It’s been a year since Jack Buckles discovered the Keep beneath Baker Street, an underground tower no Section Thirteen was ever supposed to see; a year since his dad fell into a coma. Nothing has been the same since. Jack’s tracker abilities are on the fritz, Gwen’s not speaking to him and, what’s worse, there’s a pounding voice in his head calling for “the flame.”
Jack and Gwen are framed for the theft of a historic crown jewel—the Black Prince’s Ruby, one of three cursed rubies said to bring knowledge, loyalty, and the command of nations to whomever wields them all. Now, they must retrieve the other jewels before the true thief does, or risk unleashing a reign of terror unlike anything history’s ever seen.
About the Author
James R. Hannibal is no stranger to deep dark secrets or hunting bad guys, having served in the US Air Force as a stealth bomber pilot and a Predator mission commander. Like Jack Buckles, James “suffers” from synesthesia, an intersection of the senses that was once considered a mental illness and often causes hyperobservance. If you bake him a cake, he might tell you that it smells blue and sticky—and you should take it as a compliment. You can learn more at TheLostPropertyOffice.com.
Read an Excerpt
The Fourth Ruby
NIGHT HAD FALLEN on London’s Baker Street. The orange glow of the streetlamps reflected off pavement that seemed perpetually wet. A good number of pedestrians still walked the sidewalks, mostly heading home from the cafés. Teatime had barely passed, and in London, tea was more than just hot drinks.
A little south of Regent’s Park and a little north of the Baker Street Tube station—near 221B—one particular pedestrian opened his palm and let an etched gold cube drop to the ground. He kept on walking. No one shouted after the man to tell him he had dropped something. No one noticed at all.
The cube clinked and clacked like a metal die, only not quite the same, thanks to tiny gems at each of the eight corners. It paused once, balancing on a single jewel for an unnatural space of time, then rolled on for another meter or so before coming to a complete stop. There it sat in the grime, glittering and anonymous, as a group of twenty-somethings strolled by. Their scarves and their laughing faces were reflected in a darkened shop window, amid lettering that read LOST PROPERTY OFFICE.
Once the laughing pedestrians were safely past, the cube shook and bobbled. Its sides split open, unfolding into eight spindly legs, each crowned with one of the tiny gems. The spider pushed itself up. It lifted a bulbous glass abdomen filled with sickly green syrup and then skittered across the pavement to climb a rainspout, utterly oblivious to the irony of its actions. Reaching the top unscathed, it raced across the roof, spiraled its way up a steaming vent pipe, and disappeared inside.
The creature descended for what seemed like ages, spiked feet clicking all the way. It took several branches, making lefts and rights into joining pipes, but always it continued downward, deep into a massive, secret underground tower known as the Keep.
Finally, the spider came within view of a blazing fire and slowed. It crept, inch by inch, to the underside of a great mahogany hearth, training its tiny cameras on a pair of children seated in high-backed velvet chairs in an otherwise dark room. The boy, a teenager, sat staring into the blaze. The girl, younger, her tiny form dwarfed by the Victorian chair, gazed at him with an expression of concern. After a moment, the boy stood to inspect the hearth, and the spider scrambled back out of sight.
Then again, there might never have been a spider in the first place. Maybe the gold flashes the boy saw in his mind’s eye had nothing to do with a metal cube or tiny gems clacking on pavement. Maybe the silvery spikes had not been the clickety-clicks of a clockwork spider skittering down a pipe. Maybe the glittering confetti he saw had not been pedestrian laughter at all. Maybe the boy had imagined the whole thing.
Jack Buckles, a tracker by birth, had been struggling with his unusually keen senses. A year before, he had defeated a grown man in a smoky bell tower using only sound and feel to guide his actions. But these days, even the noisy Quantum Electrodynamic Drones—better known as QEDs—that hummed around the Ministry of Trackers could sneak up on him. Jack’s senses had been failing him for months.
Of course, on the off chance Jack’s senses had been correct, if a clockwork spider had really crawled down into the Keep to look for him, then that would be very, very bad.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Although I didn't read the first book in this series and had little trouble settling into the story with this second tale, I would highly recommend starting the series at the beginning. Packed with fast-paced adventure, interesting twists and magic around every corner, this story reminds a bit of Harry Potter while carrying more tension and a tiny dash of steampunk atmosphere. Jack Buckles is training to be a Tracker, but being a section 13 still hangs on him like a layer of stinky, sticky goo. To make matters worse, he's afraid his powers aren't working quite right—something he's trying to hide. When his professor wants to meet him, the situation rocks into chaos and Jack finds himself as the main suspect in the theft of the Crown Jewels. Jack must prove his innocence before he's captured by authorities but ends up in the middle of something larger than he might be able to handle. From the first page, a rich world opens up and sucks the reader in. The author melds character sympathy, world building and tension into a perfect balance from the very first chapter. Mystery hits right away in a curious, unsolved event, and then leads right into Jack's first problematic situation—one which shows his determination and frustration, making him a character easy to identify with and root for. He's an underdog thanks to his past, much he couldn't do anything about and isn't his fault, but luckily, pity doesn't cling too thick. He does what he has to do, no matter what the villains bring against him—and what horribly evil villains these are! The adventure is fast, exciting and constantly hits with explosions, near escapes and tension pure. But the author also builds in clever twists and turns, which enrich the mystery and intrigue. The puzzles and riddles mix in nicely with magic and intrigue. Add the morsels of pure fantasy like buildings with gravity sometimes up and sometimes down, and it's simply a fun read. Summed up, this is a wonderful series for fantasy friends who love non-stop adventure and action, but enjoy a magical world full richness and clever innovations throw in. At 400 + pages, it might seem like a heavy read, but the tale grabs up and guarantees excitement the whole way through. I received a complimentary copy and so loved this world that I wanted to leave my honest thoughts.
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers for the opportunity to read and review The Fourth Ruby by James R. Hannibal! This sequel to The Lost Property Office finds the Buckles siblings, Jack and Sadie, relaxing by the fireplace. The siblings begin another quest with Gwen while they search for a thief together and the item the thief is after, the fourth ruby. The Mongolian history was interesting to read about and I liked how the author tied it into the Buckles’ lives. Jack continues and is determined to help his father throughout this new adventure even though many dangers are lurking. Fun steampunk mystery! 4 stars. *I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.