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Book Review

Madman in Manhattan by Marianne Hering has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the 21st book in “The Imagination Station” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

The previous book in this series, The Inferno in Tokyo, ended with the Imagination Station and Nikola Tesla in Tokyo, Japan. In this book, Beth leaves with Tesla in the Imagination Station, just after Eugene sends a warning message to not let Tesla use the Imagination Station.

Beth and Tesla arrive on a rooftop of a Manhattan, New York, building. Tesla can fix the Imagination Station, but first he wants to prove that he invented it and that John Avery Whittaker (Whit) stole it. Tesla takes Beth to his small lab in the building where they landed.

Patrick, who is still in Japan, worries because Mr. Inumaru, an old friend of Tesla's, said that Tesla accidentally burned down most of his labs and thinks he can travel through time. Eugene appears in Japan in the new Imagination Station, but he is an old man. Patrick and Eugene leave for New York to keep Tesla from fooling with the power source of the Imagination Station.

Beth meets Gerald, the grandson of Lewis Latimer, a patent consultant. Gerald works for Tesla. He sends them to a law office to speak to his grandfather because Tesla wants to prove he has a patent on Whit's machine. Once there, Beth learns that Tesla feels cheated by Mr. Edison, Mr. Ford, Mr. Marconi, Mr. Morgan, Mr. Whittaker and Eugene Meltsner. Before they leave Latimer's office, Tesla accuses Beth of being a spy, too.

Patrick and Eugene arrive at Wardenclyffe lab, one of Tesla's destroyed labs. The outside of the building makes it look deserted. Inside, it is a functioning lab with many interesting devices. Over the last six years, Eugene has been buying Tesla's experiments, and he has been recreating what he made in his patents. He shows Patrick a picture of Whit with Tesla in a newspaper.

Beth convinces Tesla that she isn't a spy, but she lets it slip that the Imagination Station is a time machine. Tesla celebrates that Whit figured out how to travel in time. Tesla hurries back to the hotel. Tesla wants to use the time machine to turn in patents ahead of his competitors. Beth races to the hotel's rooftop to hide the Imagination Station from Tesla, but when she reaches it, the Imagination Station has disappeared.

The new Imagination Station appears with Eugene and Patrick. After Beth gets over the shock of how old Eugene is, Eugene locks down the first Imagination Station in Tesla's lab. Then he explains how he has aged 49 years from when he was left in a jail (from an earlier book in the series) to today. He has waited for Mr. Tesla, all these years, so he can fix the Imagination Station and they can all go home.

Tesla and Gerald arrive on the rooftop. No one knows who is in the car Imagination Station at Tesla's lab. Eugene takes the new Imagination Station to Wardenclyffe while Patrick and Beth admire Tesla's helicopter prototype. Tesla invites Beth to try the prototype with him. When she does, she learns that he is flying them both to Wardenclyffe.

Whit appears on the hotel's roof in the new Imagination Station. He was the one in the Imagination Station car. He gives Gerald encouraging words and takes Patrick to Wardenclyffe.

When Beth and Tesla land, Patrick and Whit greet them. He has fixed both Imagination Stations. Tesla hurries into his old lab, and Whit and the cousins follow him in. Inside, Mr. Ford and Mr. Edison are looking at the Model T's electric motor. They choose not to invest in Tesla's work. This disappoints Tesla.

Whit gives Tesla the gift of one time-travel trip. Eugene takes him in the Imagination Station to the 21st century in lockdown mode so he can't leave the Imagination Station but can see what it looks like. Patrick and Beth return to Whit's End with Whit.

Christian Beliefs

Beth asks Tesla about the Bible in his room, which Tesla's mother gave to him. Tesla likes the parts that talk about lightning. Beth tells him that the Bible is about more than just electrical insights.

Patrick says a prayer for Beth's safety when Tesla flies away. Later, Beth and Patrick write a note to Tesla and attach it to a pigeon's leg. It includes a line from Beth that tells him that the Bible holds the best ideas.

Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Whit helps Beth and Patrick learn more about God and history. He appears in New York and fixes both Imagination Stations. He tries to get other inventors to invest in what Tesla is inventing, and he is kind to Tesla. He lets his friend see the 21st century.

Eugene has aged over the last 49 years, but he has been following the Imagination Station's journey from his laptop. He kept an eye on Patrick and Beth when they traveled, and he prepared a lab for Whit to fix both Imagination Stations.

Lewis Latimer was a man of integrity, no matter the person he came in contact with — rich, poor, logical or mad.





Discussion Topics

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Additional Comments/Notes

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

7 and up


Marianne Hering






Record Label



A Focus on the Family book in association with Tyndale House Publishers Inc.


On Video

Year Published





We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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