The folks at Abrams sent me a box of books for the KU Children's Lit Conference. Among them was Gareth P. Jones' Constable & Toop.
The mood is gray and shadowy - perfect for a rather gruesome book about
ghosts and murder. The main living characters are teens. That's the
only thing about this book that might make it YA. The murders are awful
- although not overly graphic. The lampooning of bureaucracy will
resonate with readers of all ages.
Here's the set up. Sam Toop
is a Talker. Ghosts come to him for help with those last minute things
that hold them here. If Sam is successful, the ghosts walk through the
Door into what waits for them. Lapsewood is a ghost - a clerical drudge
in the Office that regulates ghostly affairs. Something is amiss in
London. The field operative that visits resident ghosts - ghosts held
in place by the buildings they haunt - has gone missing. So, although
he seems to be incompetent, Lapsewood is sent to find the missing ghost.
He finds her and something much, much worse.
There is also an
exorcist who rips ghosts apart, allowing that other Evil to grow. And a
teen girl, Clare, who is fascinated and enamored with the world of
These stories, Sam's, Lapsewood's, Clare's, the
exorcist's and the murderer's - I forgot the murderer - unfold alongside
each other. Then, they merge.
It's all pretty cool the way
Jones pulls each of these strings together. The ghost world of
Victorian London promises a lot of stories, should a young Talker have
If your copy has an author's note at the end, (my copy is an ARC), take the time to read it.