About the Author
Karina Raude lives in New Hope, Pennsylvania. The Traitors' Gate
is the first book she has illustrated.
Date of Birth:December 23, 1937
Place of Birth:New York, New York
Education:University of Wisconsin; M.A. in Library Science from Columbia University, 1964
Read an Excerpt
The Traitors' Gate
Atheneum/Richard Jackson BooksCopyright © 2007 Avi
All right reserved.
"But -- "
"I'm warning you, don't speak! Yer life may depend upon it!"
Midnight on the River Thames: A rowboat in which two men sit. Water stinking of dead fish, sewage, and brackish sea. Fog so clotted with coal dust that the men, though a few feet apart, cannot see each other, no more than they can see the stars in heaven or the gas lamps of London less than a quarter of a mile away.
A paddle wheeler passes by. The churning water causes the rowboat to dip and bob. The first speaker rests on his oars. But once the wheeler is gone, he leans over his oars and whispers, "River police."
"How do you know?"
"It's my job to know, ain't it?" His voice is low and husky.
"Do they know we're here?"
"How could they?"
"Them Metropolitan Police 'ave detectives now."
"A dumb lot they are, I suppose."
"Think so? Then 'ere's some advice: Keep away from Chief Inspector Ratchet. You never know when 'e'll show up. All right, then, 'ow are things back where you come from?"
"Couldn't be worse."
"And you're 'ere to even things up, right?"
"We're going to defend ourselves, that's all."
"So you called on me for 'elp, did you?"
"'Ow you get my name?"
"A girl said you'd help me."
"Then she done 'er job fine. Now listen 'ard. I'm about to provide that 'elp you want.Then I'll get you back on shore quick as winks."
"Why did you bring me out here?"
"You paid me for information. And you're brand-new 'ere, ain't you? People won't know you. But me, I've been round this city some. So let me tell you, London 'as more eyes and ears than any city. If them Peelers see you with me, it's over. Lot safer out 'ere on the river."
"What about that police boat?"
"Just 'ope it's a coincidence."
"All right. Go on. I'm listening. What's your information?"
"It's this: There's this clerk, Wesley John Louis 'Uffam."
"If you like."
"Why, I know about him!"
"Do you? Who told you?"
"That's my business. Go on."
"If you know 'im, I guess you also know 'e works in the Naval Ordinance Office. 'E's seen the wery plans you want. And 'e's more than seen 'em. 'E's copied 'em."
"Who do you think? The Royal Navy. 'Ere's the point: There's reason to think you can get the information from 'im."
"Is he willing?"
"That's the word. The man's either a fool or too clever by 'alf. But 'e's surely got what you're looking for -- in 'is 'ead. The best military invention in a 'undred years. Changes everything. Better yet, 'e's let word slide that 'e's willing to sell it to the 'ighest bidder. Why? Cause 'e needs money. Needs it bad. All right, then: Apply the right squeeze and you should 'ave no trouble getting what you want out of 'im. 'E's an easy mark."
"How much time do I have?"
"What's it now, August? I'd say you got till November."
"I have someone close to the man."
"You have your business, I have mine."
"You talk like a real spy."
"If you're asking if I'm willing to take risks? Well, I am."
"A real gambler, ain't you?"
"A man has to survive someway, don't he?"
"Fine, but from this point on," says the rower, "you're on yer own. Understand? I don't want to see yer face, and I don't want you to see mine."
"Don't worry. The bloody fog is so thick, I can't see anything."
"Just this: From the way this 'ere 'Uffam put out 'is word, I'll bet there's others trying to get what you want. You're not likely to be the only one in the game."
"The usual mob. The French. The Russians, per'aps. Maybe the Prussians, Turks, or Spanish. Could be Americans for that matter. Take yer pick."
"No idea which?"
"It could be all. Or some. Or none. Best be on yer guard. Now I'll take you back to the riverbank. No more talk."
"One more question."
"What's your interest?"
The rower leans forward and, guided by the voice, manages to tap on the other man's chest as if to punch a mark on it. "I can 'ave my own business too, can't I?"
"Suit yourself," says the passenger, pushing the hand away with a walking stick.
The rower leans back and begins to propel the rowboat with powerful strokes. All is quiet save for the splash of oars.
"Fog lifting," he says, shifting his head so that his oilskin cloak covers him up to the eyes.
"Where are we?"
The rower peers through the murk. "There's the Tower of London. You can just make out Traitors' Gate."
"I'd rather not land there," mutters the other.
"Fitting...in its way."
"If that's a joke, I don't like it. Just get me on shore."
The little boat scrapes the riverbank where a narrow city street -- Cousin Lane -- runs down to the water.
The passenger clambers out.
"Mind the muck!"
"I assure you," the man calls back as he vanishes into the fog, "luck will have nothing to do with it."
"Maybe," murmurs the oarsman as he pushes back into the foggy river, "just maybe I should 'ave taken 'im straight to Traitors' Gate. Might 'ave saved time. Well, I guess I'll find out soon enough."
He rows right to Old Swan's Pier, where the police paddle wheeler is waiting for him. "All right, then," he announces as he climbs aboard. "Our pretty little fishing expedition 'as commenced. By November we'll see what our net brings in."
Among those who hear him is a girl. She puts a dirty hand over her mouth and does a little jig of delight to keep from laughing out loud.
Excerpted from The Traitors' Gate by Avi Copyright © 2007 by Avi. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is one of Avi's "19th Century" books. He delves into the muck and poverty of London with this Dickensian tale of 14-year-old John who aims to discover the mystery behind his father's plunge into bankruptcy. Scotland Yard, military secrets, and a street urchin named Sary the Sneak all play important roles. The action is not non-stop, but mostly this is a vivid adventure that young fans of historical fiction or mysteries will enjoy.
Dickensian in inspiration, location and characterization (among others), this book showed me again why Avi is one of our best writers for JUV and YA. I must admit, however, that as much as I enjoyed these adventures (set in Victorian London), that maybe the target audience would not be as appreciative. But it could just be me. A very good and atmospheric read.
This book was readable, but a little slow and boring at times, and, like all the other Avi books I've read, utterly predictable from page one.
Avi spins a great tale of the injustices of 19th century English life for debtors. I've followed his work for over 20 years and am amazed how he has grown as a writer. This book will be featured in paperback by Scholastic in Fall 2009. I'm not sure if it will appeal to YAs, but it certainly will appeal to media specialists.
The Traitors' Gate is an historical fiction mystery that brings Dickensian London to life in a plot with as many twists and turns as the mean streets of the Rookery of St. Giles, a downtrodden neighborhood where fourteen-year-old John Huffam takes refuge with Sary the Sneak. Scotland Yard, the Tower of London, London's famous fog, debtors' prison, shabby butlers, spies, sneaks and traitors - they're all here in this richly developed story.The mysterious Mr. O'Doul has filed a writ against John's father which threatens to send him to the notorious debtor's prison at Whitehall. But who is this Mr. O'Doul? And why is Scotland Yard investigating? Why is John being followed? Will Great Aunt Lady Euphemia Huffman assist the family in its dire circumstances? Young John Huffman has more questions than answers and the plot thickens every day,"I had often - surely by my mother - been accused of having far too much fancy for my own good. But at that moment I was quite convinced that no one was telling me the truth!"John must untangle the web of lies, deceit, and subterfuge on his own in this compelling mystery.Avi, a fan of Charles Dickens, pays him homage in this thoughtful mystery set in the underbelly of London society in the late 1840s.
Avi has written way better books. This book was sort of slow and hard to follow. I have read worse, though.
THE TRAITORS' GATE is everything you'd expect from an Avi novel--a well-realized historical adventure, plenty of suspense, and lots of surprises along the way. Whether you're intrigued by Victorian England, you like a good mystery, or you're just looking for a book that will keep you guessing right until the final chapter, you'll find something to enjoy here.
It is the mystery of THE TRAITORS' GATE that will keep readers turning the pages. If 14-year-old John Huffam wants to save his family from destitution, he must find a scheming traitor, who engineered his father's arrest in order to force Mr. Huffam to sell the military secrets he has memorized. Unfortunately for John, he has more suspects than he can count, and every piece of information he learns raises as many questions as answers. Even with the help of a Scotland Yard inspector and a scruffy street girl who knows all the secrets of London, the task seems close to impossible. Yet John pushes on, through multiple twists and turns, to an ending that is satisfying yet unpredictable.
Underneath the mystery, however, there is a lot more to the story. At heart, it is a tale of lost innocence and growing up. John must come to terms with the fact that many of the adults in his life, including his father, are deeply flawed. It is up to him to choose: allow himself to sink to the levels of his role models, or do his best to hold himself above them and be the best person he can be, despite his circumstances. He must also decide who to turn away from, and, more importantly, who to forgive. For nothing in THE TRAITORS' GATE is completely black and white. Every character has virtues as well as vices, and most are simply doing what they think is best for them, with believable (if not always sympathetic) motives. This depth with stick with readers long after they've discovered the answer to the mystery.
Making the story even more engaging is the vivid depiction of Victorian London. Descriptions are full of detail and life. Readers will feel as though they've taken a trip there rather than just reading about it. Avi reveals the full range of London experiences, from the lush homes of the rich to the squalid rooms of the very poor, and everything in between. Though some of the laws and customs of this period will be unfamiliar to readers, explanations are easily worked into the story as John learns things about his society even he didn't realize.
If you have a chance to pick this one up, don't hesitate. THE TRAITORS' GATE will stir the mind and the heart equally, and entertain readers along the way.
it was ok