DARK WATERS by Catherine MacPhail


Age Range: 12 - 14
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Scotsman Col McCann, son of a deceased criminal and the hero-worshiping brother of another, seems destined to continue in the family trade. One rainy night, his older brother Mungo storms in, beaten up and obviously frightened. Col, without knowing the nature of the crime he has committed or giving it much consideration, helps Mungo concoct an alibi to hoodwink the police and avoid prison. Shortly afterwards, Col saves a younger boy, Dominic, from drowning in an icy loch. His altruistic impulse and the events that follow lead Col to question his brother’s actions and their effect on the lives of his victims. The fast-paced plot, with its element of the supernatural, explores moral and ethical issues, providing conflict and depth to the story’s mystery and adventure. Characterization is fine; Col, Dominic, and Klaus, an illegal immigrant, are particularly convincing. There is plenty to think about and discuss here: the conflict between family loyalty and responsibility to people outside the family circle, as well as the role played by improved self-esteem and social acceptance on Col’s view of himself and his world. An exciting read with strong appeal for mystery fans and reluctant readers. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 1-58234-846-4
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2003


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