by Benedict Carey
New York: Amulet Books, 2009. 259 pgs.
Mysteries using numbers are all the rage now, and this one is prime (get it? hahahahahahahahahahaha). A ragtag collection of trailers housing workers at the Folsom Energy Plant doesn't even have its own name: Folsom Adjacent is where our young heroes live, in a dusty, nasty place with no trees and nothing to do. Until people start disappearing. Lady Di Smith and Tom Jones (so-called because his Arabic name is unpronounceable to the Adjacenites) are on the case because one of the missing is their friend and tutor Mrs. Clarke. Luckily she has left mathematical clues for the children, and has prepared them to be able to solve them. The equations they come up with lead them (and soon some other helpers) into dangerous territory--the outlet pipes of the plant which fill with and purge hot water at regular intervals--and from there to a plot to scam the government and destroy the Adjacent community. Lady Di and Tom Jones are quirky, endearing characters who become their best selves during the frantic frightening action of the story, as do their oddball friends and neighbors. Carey, a writer for the New York Times, with a mathematics background has done a remarkable job of solving for the "unknowns" in this story: the numbers needed to solve the puzzle, as well as the invisible, beautiful, unknown kids of the trailer park.