The Solitaire Mystery is one of the best books I have read in an awfully long while and one I now want to buy for friends and family.
The book is fundamentally about a journey taken by a young boy, Hans Thomas and his father from Norway to Greece to find his long lost mother and bring her home. Along the way Hans Thomas is given both a magnifying glass and a large sticky bun which contains a small book which holds the key to his family’s past. The "sticky bun book" reveals to Hans Thomas a fantasy world set on an island in the sea where a man rules over a community where each inhabitant (except for himself) is a member of a suite of playing cards. It sounds fantastical but the book blends the real and the unreal well and it also covers universal themes such as human weakness, destiny and the importance of being different. I saw elements of myself in the book, from the elusive Joker and the pains of being different to the Ace of Cards who is always losing herself and isn’t quite sure who she is.
My favourite quotes from the book were often from Hans Thomas’s dad - “Every single morning I wake with a bang”. “It's as though the fact that I am alive is injected into me”- or the Joker - “I don't belong anywhere. I am neither a heart, a diamond, a club, nor a spade. I am neither a King, a Jack, an Eight, nor an Ace. As I am here - I am merely the Joker, and who that is I have had to find out for myself”. This was a book that I read in one sitting, I wanted to read to the end to find out what happens but at the same time I was aware that I was reading something special and I didn’t want it to end.
The only thing I found frustrating about the book was the little summaries Hans Thomas gives before diving into the world of the "sticky bun book" again, but given the calibre of the book overall this is really only a little gripe. I can only say, please go out and read this book, you wont regret it. The next book I will read is 'Sophie's World' by the same author, so you can tell I am officially converted!