Wednesday, April 27, 2022

The Four-Fingered Man

The Four-Fingered Man
by Cerberus Jones
Recommended Ages: 10+

Amelia, James and their parents have just moved to a spooky old house outside a remote Australian town, so they can clean up all the mess and operate it as a hotel. While James is just unhappy, Amelia is curious. She wonders why they had to move and how it can be true that the hotel is a step up for her parents, an astrophysicist and a diplomat. Maybe James got into some kind of trouble back in the city? Even curiouser is the behavior of the pirate-like caretaker, Tom, who's missing an eye, a finger, and a trustworthy vibe. Even Charlie, the housekeeper's son, thinks so. Together, they go on an adventure to investigate what's up with Tom, and whether (for example) he is stealing from their first guest.

Their snooping just gets the kids in trouble, of course, when the lady catches them in her room. Worse, whatever she keeps in her handbag has cast a spell over the kids and Tom as well, leading them to discover a secret all the grown-ups are already in on, but it was hoped they wouldn't pick up on – namely, that the Gateway Hotel takes its name from a cave beneath Tom's cottage where wormholes bring visitors from all over the universe, and that certain guests – like the lady with the handbag full of "jewels" – only look human because of hologram technology. Now that Amelia and Charlie know, the family business is in danger of ending just as it's getting started. But even if it doesn't (end, that is), they already have signs of weird adventures to come, including the creepy feeling that comes over Amelia at the mention of the name Krskn.

This is the first book in "The Gateway" series, although as luck would have it, it was the sixth that I read. So, I had to pretend not to know all the stuff the main characters found out in it, before they did. Talk about suspending disbelief! Whatever it says about the fact that I couldn't wait until all the books I'd ordered in the series came in, one or two at a time, before reading each one, let it be said. For those of you joining the program late and reading these reviews in canon order, I'll repeat (once again) that Cerberus Jones is an Australian author made up of three (or, later, two) people: Chris Morphew, Rowan McAuley and (for six books) David Harding.

Also, watch out for price gouging by online booksellers. Amazon, at the time I made the link above, wanted an incredible $17.10 for a copy of this book, which says $5.99 (slightly higher in Canada) on the back cover. I scored a copy for $4.79 at Thriftbooks. But that's nothing; there's actually one book in the series (#7, The Lost Home World) that I won't be reading for the foresseable future because copies of it are running upwards of $45 everywhere I look. So, maybe you should check your local library for copies before you go wild. If you get too hooked to help it, don't blame me. I tried to warn you.

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