What happens when a seventeenth-century bad guy has twenty-first-century technology? An accident with an antigravity machine catapulted Peter Schock and Kate Dyer back to 1763. A bungled rescue attempt leaves Peter stranded in the eighteenth century while a terrifying villain, the Tar Man, takes his place and explodes onto twenty-first-century London. Concerned about the potentially catastrophic effects of time travel, the NASA scientists responsible for the situation question whether it is right to rescue Peter. Kate decides to take matters into her own hands, but things dont go as planned. Soon the physical effects of time travel begin to have a disturbing effect on her. Meanwhile, in our century, the Tar Man wreaks havoc in a city whose police force is powerless to stop him.Set against a backdrop of contemporary London and revolutionary France, The Time Thief is the sequel to the acclaimed The Time Travelers.
The Time Thief, the second book in Linda Buckley-Archer's Gideon Trilogy, finds Peter stuck in 18th-century England, while the villainous Tar Man has taken his place in the present. As Kate and Peter's father attempt to retrieve him from the past, the Tar Man assails 21st-century London. (S&S, $17.99 512p ages 10-up ISBN 9781-4169-1527-0; Dec.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
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Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
December 25, 2007
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Excerpt from The Time Thief by Linda Buckley-Archer
In which the Tar Man has his first encounterwith the twenty-first century, and Kate and Dr. Dyeragree to conceal the truth from the police
It was late afternoon on December 30, the last Saturday of the Christmas holidays, and freezing fog had settled, shroudlike, over London. It had been dark since four o'clock and wherever street lamps cast their orange glow, droplets of moisture could be seen dancing in the icy air.
In Trafalgar Square, seagulls, drawn inland by the severe weather, perched on top of Nelson's head. In St. James's Park, pelicans skidded on frozen ponds. Harrods, its immense contours outlined by a million twinkling lights, appeared to float down Knightsbridge like a luxury liner. To the east of the city, dwarfing St. Paul's Cathedral, gigantic skyscrapers disappeared into the fog, their position betrayed only by warning lights blinking like ghostly spaceships from within the mists.
Meanwhile, in a dank, dark alley off Oxford Street -- a road that in centuries past led to a place of execution at Tyburn -- a homeless man was stuffing newspapers down his jacket and covering himself with layers of blankets. His black and white dog, who had more than a touch of sheepdog in him, lay at his side, shivering. The echoing noise of the street and the drip, drip, drip of a leaking gutter swiftly lulled the man to sleep and he did not even stir when his dog got to its feet and gave a long, low growl. If the man had looked up he would have seen, looming over him at some yards distant, silhouetted black on black, and perfectly still, an alert figure in a three-cornered hat who sat astride a powerfully built horse. His head was cocked to one side as if straining to hear something. Satisfied that he was alone, the dark figure slumped forward and laid his cheek against the horse's neck, expelling the breath that he had been holding in.
"What manner of place is this," he complained into the animal's ear, "to unleash all the hounds of hell for making off with a single prancer? Though 'tis true you wouldn't look amiss even in the stables at Tempest House. You have spirit -- I shall keep you if I can."
The Tar Man patted the horse's neck and wiped the sweat from his brow, though every nerve and sinew was ready for flight or combat. In his years as Lord Luxon's henchman he had earned a fearsome reputation. Few dared say no to him, and if they did they soon changed their mind. He had his hooks caught into enough rogues across London, and beyond, that with one twitch of his line he could reel in anything and anyone. Nothing happened without the Tar Man hearing of it first. But here, wherever "here" was, he was alone and unknown and understood nothing. It suddenly struck him that his journey here had stripped him of everything -- except himself. He clutched instinctively at the scar where the noose had seared into his flesh so long ago. What I need, he thought, is sanctuary. And a guide in this new world...
The Tar Man knew precisely where he was and yet he was lost. The roads were the same but everything in them was different.... This seemed to be London yet it was a London alive with infernal carriages that moved of their own accord at breathtaking speed. The noises and the smells and the sights of this familiar, yet foreign, city tore his senses apart. He had hoped that the magic machine would take him to some enchanted land where the pavements would be lined with gold. Not this...
He became suddenly aware of a faint scraping of heels on gravel behind him. Then a flicker of torchlight illuminated the deeply etched scar that cut a track down the blue-black stubble from his jaw to his forehead. He wheeled around.
"Stop! Police!" came the cry.
The Tar Man did not answer but dug his heels into the sides of the horse he had stolen two hours earlier from the mounted policeman on Hampstead Heath. Without a second's hesitation, horse and rider jumped clear over the vagrant and his dog and plunged headlong into the crowds. The frenzied barks that followed him were lost in the blast of noise that emanated from the busiest street in the world.
Wild-eyed, the Tar Man stared frantically around him. It was the time of the Christmas sales and half of London, after a week of seasonal overindulgence, was out in search of bargains. Oxford Street was heaving with shoppers, packed so densely that it took determination to walk a few feet. Never-ending streams of red double-decker buses and black cabs, their exhausts steaming in the cold, moved at a snail's pace down the wide thoroughfare.
The Tar Man drove his horse on, vainly trying to breach the solid wall of shouting pedestrians that hemmed him in. His heart was racing. He had stepped into a trap of his own making. He berated himself furiously. Numbskull! Have I left my head behind as well as my nerve? Do I not have sense enough to look before I leap?