The London Eye Mystery Summary

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  • 0:04 ''The London Eye Mystery''
  • 1:00 Focus on Autism
  • 1:45 Salim's Disappearance
  • 3:05 Marcus's Confession
  • 4:21 POV & Themes
  • 5:47 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ivy Roberts

Ivy Roberts is an adjunct instructor in English, film/media studies and interdisciplinary studies.

This lesson introduces readers to Siobhan Dowd's Sherlock Holmes-type adventure ''The London Eye Mystery'' (2007) and her main character and narrator, Ted Spark. Ted has a mild case of autism, called Asperger's syndrome, and proves to be an thought-provoking character.

The London Eye Mystery

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd, published in 2007, is a cross between a Sherlock Holmes adventure and a Temple Grandin autobiography. Temple Grandin is known for her advocacy of the humane treatment of farm animals and her struggles to explain the unique perspectives of others like her who live on the autism spectrum. The story revolves around the Spark family. Ted (age 13) is the protagonist. He has an older sister, Kat. Their mom, Faith, is a nurse, and their father, Ben, is a demolitions expert. Ted and Kat take their cousin, Salim, who is visiting from Manchester, on a sightseeing tour of London. Salim rides on the London Eye, the Ferris wheel on the Thames in London. But Ted and Kat don't see him get off. It's almost as if he disappeared into thin air. The novel follows Ted and Kat as they try to unravel the mystery of Salim's disappearance.

Focus on Autism

Dowd's book is more than just a mystery. It offers unique insight into the mind of a boy on the autism spectrum. Ted has Asperger's Syndrome, a mild form of autism. Such individuals are referred to as being on the autism spectrum. Ted tries to explain to readers how he sees the world, interacts with people, and copes with problems.

Dowd masterfully introduces readers to Ted without labels, judgments, or medical jargon. Words like autism and Asperger's appear nowhere in the book. That's because we see the world through Ted's eyes. He's unique, but he's not defined by his disorder. Throughout the story, Ted uses a computing analogy; his brain uses a different operating system than everyone else's.

Salim's Disappearance

Salim's disappearance sends shock waves through the household. Aunt Gloria, Salim's mom, is beside herself. Rashim, Salim's father and Gloria's estranged husband, comes to stay with the Sparks upon receiving news of Salim's disappearance.

Ted overhears Aunt Gloria and Uncle Rashim fighting one night and learns that they're getting a divorce; Gloria is accepting a job in New York and taking Salim with her. Salim begged his father to stay with him because he doesn't want to leave Manchester.


The photos on Salim's camera offer Ted other hints. He's a natural problem solver, and can see things that others overlook. Ted develops eight theories:

  1. Salim hid in the Ferris wheel pod until Ted and Kat were gone
  2. Salim was in a different pod than the one they originally thought
  3. Salim got out of the pod, but their paths failed to meet
  4. Salim developed amnesia
  5. Salim spontaneously combusted
  6. Salim was in disguise when he disembarked from the Ferris wheel
  7. Salim traveled through time; or
  8. Salim was hiding under someone else's jacket

Through a process of elimination, Ted and Kat land on theory six: Salim must have been wearing a disguise.

Marcus's Confession

In their hunt for missing persons, the police locate Marcus, another boy from Manchester who looks a lot like Salim. As it turns out, Marcus and Salim are best friends. Marcus reveals in his statement to the police that the two boys planned Salim's disappearance so that Salim could go back to Manchester and live with his dad.

Marcus would meet Salim at the Eye, where they would switch clothes in the Ferris wheel pod. That way, when they disembarked, Ted and Kat wouldn't recognize Salim. Marcus and Salim would be free to hop a train back to Manchester.

But at the train station, Salim had second thoughts. He decided that New York wouldn't be so bad. The last time Marcus saw Salim was at the station, as he boarded the train back to the Spark house. Something must have gone wrong. Was Salim actually kidnapped or did he get lost?

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