Orca Book Publishers|October 1, 2011|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-1-55469-872-1
When Charlie Sykes wakes up in hospital in St. John’s, he learns that he and his father have been in a car accident and that his father is dying. Charlie inherits little more than the brass key that his father pressed into his hand before he passed away. As far as Charlie knows, he has no family in Newfoundland. But then Uncle Nick shows up and is keen to meet this nephew – not because of who Charlie is, but rather because of what Charlie has: the key. That key will unlock a treasure Uncle Nick began searching for more than thirty years earlier. And he would have found it all those years ago if he hadn’t been arrested and sent away for murder. But Charlie isn’t convinced he should give up the key. He leads Uncle Nick on a wild chase through old St. John’s, across Signal Hill and out to the coast. There, high above the rugged Atlantic, Charlie finally comes face-to-face with Uncle Nick, the treasure, and a family history that will leave him with a new understanding of where he comes from and where he’s going.
Charlie Sykes and his father, Michael had been in a bad car crash. Charlie doesn’t remember anything after the moose hitting them and then waking up in the hospital. The cops are there and ask if he wants to see his Dad and Charlie says “yes”, although he knows it’s going to hurt like hell. The nurses put Charlie into wheelchair, takes him up two floors to the intensive care unit. Charlie thought his Dad would be in a quiet room where it was dark since he was hurt so bad but this room was full of light, noise and machines.
They tell Charlie that his Dad is in a coma and he barely recognized him with his head shaved, his face all fat and puffy, but they said he may be able to hear Charlie talk to him and encourage him to do so. They keep telling him he is very sick. Charlie sits on the bed, bends over and says: “Dad, it’s me. Charlie.” He doesn’t say anything. Charlie sees his Dad’s hands twitch again and again so he puts both of his hands around his Dads. Then, just a tiny bit his hand opens, then a bit more and Charlie feels something drop. It’s small, hard, hot in his palm. It’s a key. Charlie keeps his hand closed not wanting the doctors, nurses, or cops to know he has it. He doesn’t know what it’s for or what it opens. Suddenly a buzzer goes off, Charlie is pushed back into his wheelchair and the nurse pushes him out of the room, but he already knows his Dad was gone and that he was now alone without a mother or father. He knew as soon as that key hit his hand. Back in the quiet of his own room, Charlie examines the key. It’s a type of key he’s never seen before. “It’s long and thin and brass, and it’s got a number stamped at the top: 158. Maybe it’s for a locker?” Charlie doesn’t know. He needs to hide the key so asks the nurse for a Bible and hides the key inside and keeps the Bible close to his side.
A social worker comes to see Charlie and asks him where he lives and Charlie tells her he is 13-years-old and lives at: “Apartment 6B, 2719 West Third Street, Fort McMurray, Alberta…” Now Charlie is in Newfoundland and the social worker wants to know why – were he and his Dad on a vacation? Charlie lied when asked if his Dad was there to meet with a friend or a relative. She asked: “Have you ever been here before?” “Nope”, Charlie replies realizing the second lie was easier. “The truth is my Dad got a phone call just before we started our trip. Late at night but he could only hear his Dad say “Okay” and “When?” and “Where?” Charlie could have told them about how he cracked his bedroom door and saw his Dad shaking and all white but as soon as he saw Charlie there he said: “(expletive) Charlie. We gotta go. We gotta start tomorrow. He’s getting out…”
Charlie eventually meets “who is out” and that is his Uncle Nick who has been in prison for murder for the past 15 years. Uncle Nick is after the key he knows Charlie must have since his brother, Michael has now passed away and Uncle Nick wants it, badly. However, Charlie doesn’t think he should give the key up so quickly and sets about a wild chase throughout old St. John’s, across Signal Hill and out to the coast. Once there and trapped high on the rugged terrain Charlie and Nick are both confronted by an unexpected visitor who also know they have a key and what they are after and the intruder wants the key too. What happens next will leave you quaking in your boots.
Well written story that people of all ages will enjoy.