Elliot is twelve. He's obsessed with numbers and letters, especially palindromes. He loves to spend his spare time playing about with words or numbers, when he can avoid school bully Victor Criddle, his arch-enemy. But when the biggest mystery that struck our school in the history of the world has to be solved, Elliot's forced to use all of his brain power.
This is a short, quick read which is definitely going to interest children who, like Elliot, love playing about with numbers and words. It's packed full of palindromes, anagrams and weird and wonderful number facts, but it's also got an engaging narrator and a clever plot. Just how clever the plot is doesn't really become apparent until the end - at which point I went back and flicked through it to see what I'd missed the first time around!
In addition to Elliot himself, there are some good characters here - notably the school bully and the older girl who Elliot has befriended - and Townsend's writing style makes it easy to read, while it's always good to see a book that will really get children thinking.
That said, my one slight... well, complaint is perhaps too strong a word, so let's use niggle. The one niggle I'd have would be that the blurb is on the misleading side, suggesting that there will be lots of puzzles for the readers to solve throughout the book. In actual fact, most of them are just palindromes and other similar things thrown into the narration by Elliot himself and it's only towards the very end that readers are really challenged to work out the mystery.
Still, this is a refreshingly different story which I'm sure will be popular with both children and parents. Well worth reading!