Although it lacks the epochal resonance of the 19th-century adventure yarns--e.g., Treasure Island--that inspired it, this old-fashioned thriller has enough action, plot twists, and eerie melodrama to satisfy young enthusiasts of the genre. Lawrence's first novel opens in 1799; a storm rages and a ship is lured onto the rocky Cornwall coast by those who live off the plunder of wrecked ships. John, who was sailing home after his first trading voyage with his merchant father, is apparently the only survivor. Hunted by the ruthless wreckers, he is protected by Simon Mawgan, whom he believes to be their secret leader, and befriended by Mawgan's niece, Mary. When John discovers that his father is alive and held prisoner, he must try to rescue him without knowing who can be trusted to help. Lawrence stirs up all the essential elements: page-turning prose, ghostly legends, grisly danger, a storm-tossed coast, and a rousing lightning-lit finale. He also includes well-defined characters, from greedy and black-hearted murderers to noble youngsters, and a powerfully charming man who may or may not be a friend. A rousing debut that may inspire readers to acquaint themselves with Stevenson's works.