Even as a kid, I loved books with floor plans, treasure maps, city layouts, and the like. I’m still a real fan of them: Agatha Christie, Nancy Drew, Brother Cadfael, Blue Balliett, and Murder She Wrote, to name just a few. Operation Red Jericho: The Guild of Specialists Book 1, a science fiction archaeology adventure for older children, has taken this idea further in a manner I can’t resist.
This book has a cloth cover with the title and back cover promotional blurbs glued on and a black elastic band bookmark which keeps your book closed since the box checked on the front label says “Confidential Mission.” There are lots of featured pull out maps and floor plans throughout the book, research, documents, and clues the two main characters, Becca and Doug MacKenzie, collect along their harrowing adventures as they try to find their missing parents and save mankind from an evil threat. They learn about an ancient and secret organization originally created to protect the world from this danger and their uncle’s involvement in it. Becca keeps a diary and Doug’s sketches of the action are peppered throughout the book as well.
Having escaped the control of their Aunt Margaret, the teenagers have travelled independently to Shanghai to board a research vessel called Expedient under the command of their uncle, Captain Fitzroy MacKenzie (looking very much like a pirate). Other characters on board are the ship’s cook, Mrs. Ives (a formidable authoritarian), and an “immense tiger with ice-white fur and black stripes . . . and flashing razor-sharp teeth” to begin their adventure.
The story, circa 1920, is full of early 20th century innovations especially in the area of theoretical physics (a special interest of Doug’s) and lots of ancient weaponry. The ship is not what it seems nor are some of the allies the children form along the way. The story is well-written and full of danger and suspense. This is the first mission of 3 the children embark on to find and rescue their parents, so be prepared to have a bit of a cliff-hanger ending. Operation Typhoon Shore: The Guild of Specialists Book 2 and Operation Storm City: The Guild of Specialists Book 3 are equally exciting; you’ll want to acquire all three adventures.