W.A.R.P.: The reluctant assassin by Eoin Colfer
Recommended for upper primary readers who are not squeamish! Artemis Fowl fans will be keen to try this first book in the latest series from Eoin Colfer but they may be disappointed if not a little shocked on reading the opening chapter. Though when the title is The Reluctant Assassin what would one expect but an assassination.
W.A.R.P. is the acronym for the FBI's Witness Anonymous Relocation Program and 16 year old agent Chevie Savano has been assigned to the London office after an embarrassing incident in Los Angeles. Her job is to monitor 'the pod' which is a time travel portal to Victorian England. Chevie develops an uneasy relationship with Agent Orange aka Felix Smart, whose father invented the machine, and is prepared to sit out her time until returning to Quantico, when 'the pod' delivers Riley the apprentice assassin, and akin to a character from Dickens' Oliver Twist, directly from Victorian London.
When Riley's master, the famous magician The Great Lombardi turned professional assassin, Albert Garrick manages to also travel to the present in search of Riley with the intention of killing him, Chevie is determined to save both Riley and herself and prevent Garrick from using the knowledge and weapons gained from his trip to the twenty first century for his benefit in nineteenth century London.
The action races between the two eras and is littered with the corpses of various individuals as Garrick pursues the youngsters and they discover the truth about Riley's past. They also meet a range of characters from Otto Malarkey head of the Battering Rams, a gang of thieves and wastrels, to Tibor Charismo wealthy novelist, composer and consultant to the Queen.
Whilst it took me a while to become engaged with the book as I mulled over the opening chapter's implied and actual violence, I enjoyed being privy to the inner thoughts of the main characters written in italics and the descriptions of Victorian London. The premise of the series gives plenty of scope for Colfer to introduce even more characters relocated in the past, as heralded in the Epilogue. I will continue to follow W.A.R.P. with interest but be cautious in my recommendations to students.