October 01, 2014

Sleeper: The Seven Sequels

by Eric Walters
Orca Book Publishers
222 pp.
Ages 10-16
For release October 1, 2014

The seven grandsons of David McLean from the original Seven Series (Orca, 2012) may have fulfilled the missions their grandfather requested of them upon his death but they're turning it around now with information they've discovered about him on their own. In fact, although the seven books of The Seven Sequels may be read in any order, I'm glad I started with Eric Walters' Sleeper as it clearly spells out how and what the boys discover that sends them off on their newest adventures, by choice or not.

Meeting up after Christmas at their grandfather's cottage, five of the cousins–DJ, Spencer, Bunny, Webb and Adam–discover a hidden cache of passports, foreign currency, a gun, a little black book, some clothes and disguises, and a bag of golf balls.  Speculating that their grandfather may have been involved in espionage, the boys decide that they have a week left of holidays before their parents are home to figure out the mystery. Bunny and Spencer head back home to Toronto (though Bunny is kidnapped from the City Hall skating rink--see my next review, for The Wolf and Me by Richard Scrimger) and DJ heads to the airport and England where he has plans on visiting Doris, the older woman whom he'd met on his trek up Kilimanjaro in Between Heaven and Earth (Walters, 2012).

But DJ's arrival in London starts with him being detained at the airport and threatened, until a government agent, Justin Bourne, makes the authorities see that the David Adam McLean they've stopped is not 93 years old.  Without giving away that his grandfather would've been that age, DJ is released and delivered to Doris's home by her surly grandson, Charles.  Though Doris has broken her leg, she is eager to help DJ so she enlists the help of her fellow Sherlock Holmesians (fans of the great fictional detective) to try to break the codes within DJ's grandfather's notebook.

Code-breaking some of the ciphers, DJ heads to Cambridge driving Doris' red Jaguar E-Type and accompanied by her beautiful granddaughter, Charlie (short for Charlotte).  Very much in the tradition of Ian Fleming's spy novels, Sleeper includes chase scenes with luxury cars like a black BMW and a white Mercedes Benz, double agents, sleeper cells, Eastern European scoundrels, the CIA, much deception and the dry wit that makes the characters seem so suave.  And, of course, there's the beautiful young woman and love interest for DJ and the dash of royalty for that regal touch.

What a great way to take readers from David McLean directing the actions of his grandsons, as he did in the Seven Series, to the boys looking to new adventures, pursuing their own suspicions and curiosity about their grandfather, and embarking on adventures that will put their intrepid natures to the test in more daring situations.  Sleeper introduces the theme of espionage and hidden identities in an intriguing manner (how appropriate!) with the boys just falling into that info (or rather it falling out).  They can choose whether to pursue it or to let it pass, as so much about their grandfather would not now that he was dead.  DJ chooses to see beyond himself.  Even in choosing to visit with Doris, a 67-year-old woman, DJ demonstrates that he can be as worldly as the man for whom he is named.  And with Eric Walters paying homage to James Bond and other great spies and fictional characters--from Henry Higgins, Jason Bourne and  Dr. Moreau--I think readers will get the impression that DJ has an impressive future ahead, filled with admirers and those who would challenge him.  And he'll be identifying himself as, "McLean. DJ McLean"

Sleeper is a propitious beginning for my reading of The Seven Sequels.  Make it one of your's too.

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