Cover image for Acceleration
McNamee, Graham.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Wendy Lamb Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
210 pages ; 22 cm
Stuck working in the Lost and Found of the Toronto Transit Authority for the summer, seventeen-year-old Duncan finds the diary of a serial killer and sets out to stop him.
Reading Level:
12 & up.

670 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 4.4 7.0 73206.

Reading Counts RC High School 6.2 13 Quiz: 34251 Guided reading level: NR.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Young Adult Fiction Young Adult

On Order



It's a hot, hot summer, and in the depths of the Toronto Transit Authority's Lost and Found, 17-year-old Duncan is cataloging lost things and sifting through accumulated junk. And between Jacob, the cranky old man who runs the place, and the endless dusty boxes overflowing with stuff no one will ever claim, Duncan's just about had enough. Then he finds a little leather book. It's a diary filled with the dark and dirty secrets of a twisted mind, a serial killer stalking his prey in the subway. And Duncan can't make himself stop reading. What would you do with a book like that? How far would you go to catch a madman? And what if time was running out. . . .

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 9-12. Acceleration: escalation of increasingly destructive aberrant behavior, the stuff that serial killers are made of. That's what teenage Duncan finds out after he begins investigating a shocking journal that turns up in the Toronto subway lost-and-found where he works. When the police refuse to take it seriously, Duncan enlists the aid of two very different friends to help him find out the identity of the diary's author, who has apparently graduated from eviscerating animals and setting fires to tracking human prey. McNamee smoothly integrates snapshots from Duncan's escapades with a new buddy and his wild best friend, who lives teetering on the edge of the law, with information plucked from the diary. He never overexploits the sensational potential of the subject and builds suspense layer upon layer, while injecting some surprising comedy relief that springs from the boys' friendship. Less convincing is Duncan's guilt for a death not of his making, which is presented as the raison d'etre for his need to find the sick killer. Characters are more than stereotypes here, though it's the mystery and the boys' repartee that give the novel its page-turning punch. --Stephanie Zvirin Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

McNamee's (Hate You) taut novel reads like a fast-paced nail-biter of a movie. Narrator Duncan has a summer job working in the lost-and-found department of the Toronto subway system, filing away discarded jackets and trinkets, bored by both the work and his sad-sack boss ("If you think of a half-deflated soccer ball with two of the hairiest ears you've ever seen attached to it, you've got a good picture of Jacob"). Among the lost items he discovers a diary, "a little leather book, with a cover that feels like skin": early entries detail the writer's grisly experiments on animals; he later graduates to arson. In his most recent entries, the writer describes three women he sees every day on the subway and tries to decide which one to kill. When the police brush off Duncan ("You don't seem like a bad kid," says the cop at the precinct. "But maybe you should find a better way to spend your summer vacation"), he enlists his friends Vinny and Wayne to help him catch the would-be killer; an ancillary story line, about Duncan's failed attempt to rescue a drowning girl, sheds light on Duncan's desperate need to be a savior. If aspects of the plot seem a bit overdetermined, there remains much to hook the audience. The timing never falters, and the dialogue stays crisp. Duncan and his friends no clean-cut do-gooders have gritty, complex personalities. A well-turned thriller. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up-Seventeen-year-old Duncan is haunted by the fact that he was unable to save a drowning girl a few yards away one fateful afternoon the previous September. This summer he has a job working underground at the Toronto subway lost and found where he uncovers, amid the piles of forgotten junk, an opportunity to exorcise his own guilty demons. When business is slow, Duncan spends his time rummaging through dusty shelves and boxes of unclaimed items. During one of these sessions, he uncovers a strange, leather-bound book that turns out to be the diary of a would-be serial killer. Unable to tear himself from the gory descriptions of tortured animals and arson, he discovers that the writer has started to stalk women on the subway. When the police seem disinterested, the teen takes matters into his own hands, and with the aid of his two best friends, tries to track and trap the murderer before he can strike. This chilling page-turner is all thrills, and the author cleverly manipulates readers' sense of disbelief by eliminating the possibility of police help or parental understanding. What results is one teen's self-conscious yet fast-paced journey into the mind of a cold-blooded killer, and the resulting manhunt will keep readers on the edge of their seats.-Hillias J. Martin, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



One This is a nightmare. Working at the Toronto Transit Commission's lost and found. Nine to five. Monday to Friday. A little slice of death, one day at a time. For me it's a two-month sentence, July and August. I would have been happy bumming around till September, but Dad called in a favor to get me in here. And at least I don't have to wear a uniform like my bud Wayne over at the Dairy Barn. Wayne's planning to torch the thing on Labor Day (the uniform, not the Barn) before we head back for our last year of high school. So I'm here under protest, a political prisoner of the capitalist overlord otherwise known as Dad. Here's the one-minute tour of the place. First, to get here you have to come to Bay subway station and take the service elevator down to the subbasement. At the end of the hall to your left you'll find the door marked lost and found. Jacob, my supervisor, sits at the front counter cataloguing the lost junk that comes in from the buses and subways in the transit system. If you think of a half-deflated soccer ball with two of the hairiest ears you've ever seen attached to it, you've got a good picture of Jacob. Past the counter there's a maze of stacks holding row after row, shelf after dusty shelf of lost stuff. I'm trying on a black leather jacket in the stacks when the bell at the counter dings. The jacket's term expires in a week, so it'll soon be appearing in my closet as part of the Duncan collection. One ding of the bell means Jacob needs me to search for something. Two dings means hurry up. Three dings--things get ugly. When I get to the counter, Jacob's asking an old woman about the weather up on the surface. Spending eight hours a day in this dungeon, you tend to forget that the sun is still shining up there. "They say it's going to hit a hundred and three today," the woman tells him. "Not a cloud in the sky." It's been six weeks with no rain. Major heat wave. But down here you'd never know. The city could be bombed to ashes and we'd still be here sorting through the piles. "Duncan, we're looking for a pair of glasses," Jacob tells me. "Silver frames. Bifocals." I sigh. "Right. This might take a while." Eyeglasses rank in the top four on the list of most often lost items, right up there with umbrellas, cell phones, and books. I'm the runner, the one who does the actual searching. Jacob does the actual sitting. I don't know who did this job before me--don't know if anybody did it before me--but the place is a mess. The way it works, stuff gets held here for three months. Everything's got a Post-it with an expiration date. Anything unclaimed gets boxed up for the quarterly sale down at the YMCA. But if you poke around, you'll find stuff that's been here for two years or more. I pulled a college sweater off the top shelf the other day, and the dust coming off it drifted down like snow. Lost junk is organized in sections. All the jackets are together, including my black leather beauty. Dozens of umbrellas are heaped in a pile, enough rain protection to keep every last flea on Noah's ark dry. There's a library of forgotten books overflowing the packed shelves. And there are two boxes of eyeglasses, separated into sunglasses and regular. I dig in. There's an amazing variety, everything from prescription swimming goggles to your basic thick-black-framed geek glasses to your old-lady specials with the necklace holders attached to the arms. I find a pair that fits the lady's description--bifocals, silver frames. Holding them up to peer through the lenses, I see they've got enough magnifying power to count the hairs on a mosquito's butt. "That's them," the old woman says after trying them on. Jacob makes her sign the claims book, as if the glasses are worth more than the dollar they'd get at the Y sale. "I'm lost without these," she tells us. "I'm so blind without them, I didn't realize until I was halfway here that I'd put hand lotion on my face instead of sunscreen. I can already feel a burn starting up." Jacob nods. "Yeah. With the holes in the ozone and global warming, the sun's not as friendly as it used to be." The woman shivers, pulling her jacket closed. "Well, it's certainly cool down here." "We're about fifty feet underground--deeper than the subway tunnels--so the temperature stays a constant cool year-round. This must be what it feels like to be buried alive." That's Jacob's idea of funny. I think he's been down here too long. The woman gives him a nervous look and mumbles her thanks as she makes for the door. "You've really got a way with the ladies," I say when she's gone. No response. I fill a paper cup at the cooler, leaning on it as it gurgles to itself, and watch the clock crawl toward eternity. Jacob goes back to reading the newspaper. Past him, there's a glass case on the wall that once held a fire axe but now has an artificial leg standing inside. That leg is like the official mascot of all the forgotten junk in the lost and found. There's a worn-down blue men's Puma running shoe on its foot, and it's obviously been well used. It always gets me wondering--how do you lose something like that? I mean, didn't the guy notice something was missing when he went hopping off the subway--that the world was bouncing up and down more than usual? What happened, that he never came back to claim it? Jacob says the thing's been here for three years. Excerpted from Acceleration by Graham McNamee All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.