12-year-old Todd is a worrier, (his friends call him Panic Button), but he does have a lot to worry about: his parents are divorced, Mum is a charity worker and living abroad, his Dad has been in bed for 15 days, and his aunt is trying her best to shop, cook, and look after him and six-year-old Laurie as well as working in a care home. Aunt Lexie says that living with Dad is like being on a rollercoaster, and we soon see why. Dad gets up, and seems to be better: Todd notices that he is taking the pills in the bathroom cabinet, and stops checking. Sure enough, Dad becomes hyperactive, as he had stopped taking his medication, so, when Aunt Lexie tells them that she is going away on holiday, he decides to take the children on holiday too, to the Paradise Hotel where he and Mum had a lovely time soon after their marriage.
The Paradise Hotel is no longer such a glamorous place, very run-down, and the owner, single Mum Marianne, is struggling to keep going at all. Her young daughter Scout helps out when not at school, but she is often dressed in a long dark coat and aviator goggles, the better to Investigate, and soon brings Todd and Laurie, and Patrick, son of another guest who has lots of business deals in the area and ignores him, into her secrets. Her great, great-grandmother Edwina Patterson, a crime author who had bought the hotel, had disappeared mysteriously from Room 42, which was locked, and she feels sure that a sinister man who lives in Room 13 is a werewolf and up to no good. There is also a creepy businessman who wants to buy the hotel at a knock-down price, and puts a lot of pressure on Marianne, so there is a lot going on. Dad just stays in bed, so all the children are free to roam about. In the story the point is made that that sometimes children have to take on more responsibility than they should. Todd almost asks for help several times, but when a bleary-eyed Dad finally emerges from their family room and asks where his children are, it is absolutely clear that all is not well, and Todd is relieved when the adults take over and start to sort things out. Of course, the old man is not a werewolf, the children find out how the famous author disappeared, and the hotel is not only saved, but takes on a new lease of life.
It’s a very exciting story from best-selling author Lisa Thompson, author of The Goldfish Boy, and The Day I was Erased, and Gemma Correll’s cover, full of cartoons of things found in the story, will be enticing.