Friday, March 15, 2013

Book Review: The Volcano of Doom by Sigmund Brouwer (Accidental Detectives #1)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great mystery for younger readers
Cons: None
The Bottom Line:
A strong mystery
Action and great characters
A winner for all

Return of the Accidental Detectives

The Accidental Detectives were first published in the early 90's. After my younger brother got hooked on them, I discovered just how great they truly are. Sadly, these kid's Christian mysteries were out of print for a few years, but then they came back with three new stories added to the series. The Volcano of Doom, the new first book (the books were reordered when republished), is also one of the new stories.

Thirteen-year-old Ricky Kidd and his friends Mike and Lisa are enjoying their Easter vacation in Hawaii. Ricky's dad is going to be the best man in his college roommate's wedding, and everyone is enjoying relaxing on the beach the week before. But then Mike discovers a Japanese statue that was hidden on their host's boat. What was Norbert doing with it? And who is trying to steal it? But when Norbert disappears, the friends find they have more questions then answers. Can they piece together the clues they do have in time to save the wedding?

Reading this book brought back everything I loved about the series. Let's start with the great plot. This book is aimed at 10-14 year olds. I'm, well, let's just say slightly older then that. I couldn't figure things out myself. The clues are right there, but Ricky has to explain what they mean to me at the end. And, of course, they logically do all fit together.

Then there are the characters. They are well established in Mr. Brouwer's mind, and it shows in how well developed they are in this book. The only one who wasn't quite up to par was Joel, Ricky's younger brother, but that's probably because he had a small part in the story. Ricky, Mike, and Lisa are strong characters with real strengths and weaknesses, making it easy for anyone to identify with and root for them. Since this is the first in the series, I'm a little surprised that Ralphy, the final main character, is left home and only makes a couple appearances by phone. The other surprise was the addition of Ricky's baby sister Rachel. I'll admit, that threw me for a little bit, but that's only because I know she wasn't there before.

Then there's the writing style. This book should grab the attention of even the most reluctant readers. The chapters are fairly short, usually averaging only 5 or 6 pages. The action is fast so there's no time to loose interest. And the vocabulary is just right for the age group.

And I can't forget the humor. Along with the danger and mystery, the main characters love to tease each other. Plus, they find themselves in some pretty funny situations. There's multiple grins, a few chuckles, and a laugh or two in this book.

I may be much older then the target audience but I just love this series. It's good to see it back in print so kids can enjoy it again, and us long time fans loved getting a new adventure with The Volcano of Doom.

And here is the revised list of the Accidental Detectives Mysteries in order.

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