I don't remember too much about it, but here's what I do remember:

  • lack of oxygen in the atmosphere
  • family has an illegal plant farm in the basement/hidden room, I think behind the fridge?
  • one or two main characters, and there's a puzzle to get past a door, they use mercury to open a lock
  • I think the police or a CIA-type agency follows them there but they are disintegrated
  • the main characters get loaded on a plane or something similar, with a bunch of other people as well, all chosen to leave

It was likely a Young Adult book.

  • Was the farm in istelf illegal, or was what they were growing a crime?
    – Nu'Daq
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 22:07

1 Answer 1


It seems likely that this is a book called The Missing Persons League, by Frank Bonham. I can't really take credit for this answer, as it was previously identified by user Bevan (see comment above for link to that question).

For anyone too lazy to follow the link, there is a definite match on the following points:

1) farming being illegal 2) boy and father have secret farm in basement hidden by refrigerator 3) oxygen shortage in air 4) government agency pursuit 5) significance of mercury to plot

  • Thank you Otis! That was exactly it. I've been wondering about this for years and only just found Stack Exchange the day I posted the question. :D
    – aerix88
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 20:49

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.