By Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
Updated October 31, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

There isn’t one throwaway sentence in the fabulous Victorian mystery Mr. Timothy, which reimagines Dickens’ Tiny Tim Cratchit all grown up and free of braces, living in a London whorehouse and chasing down a murderous pedophile. Told in shimmering, knock-your-socks-off language that treats adjectives like bonbons, ”Mr. Timothy” doesn’t just settle for the thrill ride; it also examines Cratchit’s grief over his father’s death, his complicated relationship with his uncle and benefactor, and his contemplation of the meaning of family.

Author Louis Bayard (”Fool’s Errand”) weaves together a subtle character examination and a page-turning plot, producing one truly engaging book. ”Every storyteller must have faith in his story,” he writes. ”And so must his audience.” Bayard makes it impossible not to fulfill our end.