Two teen detectives collaborate to stop a group of Russian smugglers from destroying the United States’ access to the internet in this debut novel.
Dalton Frazer’s last summer before eighth grade is full of everything a boy could want—late nights of video games, plenty of skateboarding, and lots of time spent with his grandpa, fishing on Gramps’ boat. But when Gramps is hijacked at seas, and his passenger, a Coast Guard scuba diver, disappears, Dalton finds himself in the middle of an investigation into a Russian smuggling ring being conducted by the CIA, Navy, and FBI. Determined to find out why his grandfather was hurt, Dalton is joined by his whip-smart black Labrador, Alfred, and his baseball-loving friend since first grade—and current crush—the tomboyish Maddy. They don dark clothing and leave behind the sleepy California sun of San Salina’s days for its moonlit nights, spying on the schemes of dangerous, armed men with thick accents and sinister intentions. But neither realizes just how serious the threat is, as these smugglers aren’t moving drugs or guns, but dangerous microchips intended to destroy the American economy by attacking the country’s internet access, forcing a Coast Guard-trained dolphin to risk its life to deliver the goods. DePaul’s first installment of a series offers a nice gateway for tweens and younger teens looking for age-appropriate spy fiction, peppering in mild thrills and chase scenes with slapstick comedy and intriguing set pieces from modern Coast Guard ships and the rescue and surveillance dolphin. The protagonists are clever, polite, and resourceful, respectful of their elders but unwilling to turn their backs on those in need, be they man or beast, even if it means risking their safety on their summer break. The plot is pretty thin, and even younger readers, especially more tech-savvy ones (and most kids are nowadays), will likely find the smugglers’ endgame a little silly. But it all makes for a fine excuse to fight Russian miscreants with baseball, skateboarding, and teen ingenuity.
A spy thriller that delivers appealing protagonists and a dash of suspense.