Fourteen year old Todd and fifteen year old Buff don't get around to the mystery until the book is half over, although the reader is pointedly primed for danger (""There was no way for the boys to know that in just three days, they would be led down an avenue of terror...""). When they do run into the villains, there is no mystery as Buff almost immediately recognizes that they are illegally catching salmon in a spawning stream. There is a chase--Buff is caught and threatened with murder, and Todd is almost attacked by a brown bear, gets lost in the unfamiliar wilderness, and the two make a strenuous getaway in a truck--but its implicit danger is poorly expressed. Most of the book consists of descriptions about life on an Alaskan homestead as observed by Todd, who has come from New Jersey to stay with his relatives and whose enthusiasm for the land seems to be mainly that it separates him from the members of his immediate family, all of whom make him feel inferior. On the whole, the book reads more like outdoor camping information than tough adventure.