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Sutherland, Robert.

Richmond Hill (Ont.), Scholastic-TAB, 1987. 128pp, paper, $3.95, ISBN 0-590-71749-9. CIP

Grades 4 to 9
Reviewed by Ted Monkhouse

Volume 16 Number 2
1988 March

This is Sutherland's second novel for young readers. The first was Mystery at Black Rock Island.* The setting is Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, a favourite campers' vacation spot. David is just finishing his summer job at a lodge when a stream of secretive canoeists sets out, we learn, to retrieve a well-known missing necklace. A treasure map, an insurance investigator and strange goings-on create this mystery. There is the traditional chase, young innocents versus hardened criminals, deceit, murder, narrow escape, triumph of justice, etc. Minor character development, lots of dialogue and fast pacing, all in 121 pages, make this somewhat appealing for younger and reluctant readers.

The language is somewhat stilted-"bent to the task," "the criminal element"—i.e. the characters lack realistic, emotional reaction in the circumstances portrayed. The author fails to involve the reader emotionally where fear and desperation demand it. Perhaps the hero and his girlfriend visiting from Scotland are just too squeaky clean. Parents think nothing at all of these young ones’ going out camping by themselves. Nothing happens. Perhaps this reviewer knows only young people who live in worlds where purity and evil have grey elements.

Safe and harmless for junior and intermediate grades and reluctant readers.

Ted Monkhouse, Wellington County Board of Education, Guelph, Ont.

*Reviewed vol. XI/6 November 1983 pp.249-50.

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