W.A.R.P. Book 1: The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer; Disney-Hyperion, 341 pages, $17.99 ages 12 and up.
The author of the “Artemis Fowl” series offers the first installment of a high-octane time travel adventure, from the smelly back alleys of Victorian London, to the present day. The premise is this: What if the FBI decided to change the witness protection program to the Witness Anonymous Relocation Program (W.A.R.P.), sending witnesses back in time with FBI agents for protection? What kind of havoc could such witnesses wreak in the past, if FBI agents were no longer on guard? Confined? Riley is a teen in Victorian London, orphaned as a baby, and apprenticed to Garrick, an illusionist and killer known as the Red Glove. When Garrick’s latest victim turns out to be a scientist from the future, Garrick and Riley are sucked back through the wormhole to the present where they encounter a 17-year-old FBI agent named Chevron Savano. Riley and Chevron must evade Garrick, who has become even more fearsome after acquiring the full grasp of all modern science and technology during his trip through the wormhole. But Garrick knows the real advantage will be returning to his own time, with modern weapons, where no one will be able to stop him. Colfer offers vibrant detail of Victorian London, along with larger-than-life personalities, from Garrick to the Victorian-era mob boss Otto Malarkey with his crew of Battering Rams, to the sniveling Tibor Charismo in his mansion. The pairing of 14-year-old Riley and 17-year-old Chevron is inspired and sure to make this series appeal to both male and female readers.
– Jean Westmoore