Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Puzzling World of Winston Breen by Eric Berlin

Winston Breen loves puzzles. Word puzzles, number puzzles, treasure hunts, basically any kind of puzzle. If he doesn't have a puzzle handy, he'll just make one up - that's just how much he loves puzzles. For his younger sister's birthday he gives her a box that has a false bottom. Only he didn't know it had a false bottom, or else he would have discovered the four mysterious strips of wood. While he's puzzling over what these strips mean, some strange things start to happen: the local librarian flips out at him, he's approached by two different men who want to get his strips, and he discovers that the strips might be clues to finding a long-lost hidden treasure. Winston can't resist the puzzling nature of this quest - but in looking for the treasure, is he putting his life in danger?

Anyone who likes puzzles should definitely read this book. If that's not clear from the cover of the book, then it should be clear from the above recap, where I used variations of the word "puzzles" more than half a dozen times. In addition to the main puzzles that make up the story, there are mini-puzzles for the readers to solve (and the answers are in the back of the book). (There are also some really nice touches, like Winston living on Raskin Street.) The story is much more balanced than I was anticipating; Winston is lauded for his ability to solve puzzles, but there are other people in the story who can gently remind him that puzzles aren't everything. The story also (possible spoiler) turned a bit darker than I thought it would. There's some drama over Winston's fingerprints that includes a lot of suspense, and the ending brings the threat of life or death violence much closer than I thought. I don't think there's anything that would stop someone from reading it, but it does amp up the action to the book. I was surprised by the twists and turns precisely because I wasn't expecting twists and turns (there's probably a good lesson in there about puzzles and assumptions). I'm really looking forward to reading the next book in the series and solving some more puzzles.

Find it at IndieBound. 

Read it with:
The Potato Chip Puzzles by Eric Berlin
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Floors by Patrick Carman

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