Adventure Island: the Mystery of the Drowning Man by Helen Moss
|Adventure Island: the Mystery of the Drowning Man by Helen Moss|
|Genre: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Linda Lawlor|
|Summary: Three young friends rescue a man from drowning. Unfortunately he can't remember how he got into the water, or even what his name is. Cue another exciting mystery to be solved on Adventure Island!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 190||Date: April 2012|
|External links: Author's website|
The great thing about adventure stories, as opposed to fantasies, tales of superheroes and even the more dramatic end of the teen-spy spectrum is that young readers can easily imagine themselves joining in the action. Pulling a drowning man from the sea, saving a film star, finding a treasure map and discovering dinosaur bones are all possible — even if, to be honest, they're not very likely.
The setting for this delightful series of adventures is Castle Key, an island just off the Cornish coast. This provides a rich vein of opportunities and plot-lines, not only because of the interesting residents themselves, but also because of the variety of holidaymakers (or villains pretending to be on holiday) who come to visit. In this story the island is hosting a music festival, which means that the three friends Scott, Jack and Emily (not forgetting Drift the dog) get to meet musicians, managers, technicians and other fans. In the tradition of adventure stories from an earlier, more innocent age, the friends are free to roam about the island all day and even go boating on their own, but they also have all the amenities of modern day to help them, including mobile phones to keep in contact with their families (though have you noticed how often those irritating things fail to find a signal when the hero is in serious trouble?) and the internet for research.
There are eight adventures so far in this series, and another two are due to be published in June 2012. In this particular one, the friends rescue a mystery man and work together to both protect him and uncover his identity. The main characters are two brothers, Scott and Jack, who come regularly to the island to stay with their Aunt Kate. Their different personalities and abilities contribute to the plot and also cause sibling arguments any family will recognise. Once on the island they make friends with Emily, whose parents have taken over a lighthouse and turned it into a bed and breakfast. She loves solving mysteries, and along with her dog Drift, takes the lead in all their investigations, happily drawing up lists of suspects and plotting timelines. A real strength of the books is the fact that we see parts of the story from different points of view, allowing us to experience the brothers' occasional rivalries and Emily's frustration with her duties at home. Inevitably other islanders become embroiled in their explorations, including, in this story, a bad-tempered nurse on the warpath and Harry Stiles, the feisty old man who has the bed next to their mystery man in the hospital.
Parents will enjoy reading these books with their children. Despite all the trappings of modernity the adventures still retain a flavour of Blyton, Ransome and others: an idyllic world where crime and danger abound but where the heroes eventually solve the mystery, catch the bad guys and get home in time for an enormous tea. One particular facet of the ending of this book was a trifle improbable, but otherwise it is a thoroughly good read and well worth buying to pack in your suitcase this summer.
Also worth mentioning is Adventure Island: The Mystery of the Dinosaur Discovery, in which Drift digs up some bones which may possibly belong to a dinosaur (or even a dragon, according to the new-age travellers in the purple camper van. Huge Dobermans called Tyson and Rambo, a slightly dotty professor in a wheelchair and crowds of paparazzi all add to the excitement in this snow-filled tale.
Bookbag also recommends Adventure Island: The Mystery of the Whistling Caves by the same author. And for even more thrills, there are always the excellent adventures by Lauren St John about Laura Marlin, her friend Tariq and her three-legged dog Skye: Dead Man's Cove, Kidnap in the Caribbean and Kentucky Thriller.
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