Book Review: “Nick of Time” by Ted Bell

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Nick of Time
by Ted Bell

If any 12-year-old boy has the makings of a hero, it has to be Nick McIver. Until now, his daring exploits only go as far as sailing his own small boat around the UK Channel Isle of Greybeard Island, just off the coast of France, where his father is a lighthouse keeper on the eve of World War II.

Opportunities for heroic action are already stirring. German subs are cruising the waters of the channel, possibly arming to invade British soil. An experimental U-boat prowls about, commanded by a Nazi naval officer of fanatical nastiness.

Meanwhile, a pirate from the time of Napoleon has gotten hold of a time-travel gadget invented by Leonardo da Vinci. Billy Blood has come forward to Nick’s time, seeking the only thing that can stand in his way: the other copy of his device. So far his nefarious plans only go as far as kidnapping people and holding them for ransom. Soon he may hold all of history in his hands.

Lord Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar is at stake. So are the lives of two innocent children, abducted before their father’s horrified eyes. Nick’s faithful dog Jip has been pup-napped too. So this daring, resourceful boy goes back in time to set things right – and to face the grisly violence, chaos, and danger of a real naval battle.

Meanwhile, his little sister Kate is on an adventure of her own, intercepted along with one of England’s top spies en route to deliver crucial intelligence to Winston Churchill. It will take more than a secret agent’s wits to escape from a mad crew of Gestapo agents, torturers, and a cunning U-boat commander.

Ted Bell is the author of the grown-up mystery/adventure/action/espionage series featuring Alex Hawke – possibly the same Alex Hawke we see in this book as a small boy. This “adventure through time” seems to be his first book for kids. It already has a sequel, The Time Pirate. It promises to be as exciting and fun as this novel, backed up by its author’s knowledge of real-world naval exploits. Though it isn’t a flawless book – it has, for example, one of those endings that goes on and on – it is packed with an intriguing combination of Nazis, pirates, salt-spray, danger, slices of history, and shmears of fantasy, guaranteed to keep youthful fingers turning the pages.