In this eighth series outing, Mogi Franklin and his older sister, Jennifer, are spending their summer in the Caribbean—on St. John, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, to be exact.
The Caribbean is a much different place than their hometown of Bluff, Utah. The take-it-easy pace, musical accents, and incessant humidity require a bit of an adjustment. Jennifer is working at a resort, and Mogi is tagging along. Initially, Mogi hopes to discover a long-lost treasure chest, but then he learns of Oscar Padilla, a billionaire set on bringing an amusement park to St. John, much to the chagrin of the locals. Padilla’s land has been sitting largely undeveloped for two years. The lack of activity seems suspicious, and Mogi soon abandons his quest for treasure to investigate. As the Franklins seek to uncover the truth, Padilla notices their activities. How far will Padilla go to protect his secrets, and how fast can Mogi discover them before returning to Utah? As the story unfolds, Willerton provides generous details about the environment, history, and industry of the Virgin Islands, whereas the characters can occasionally read flat, especially Jennifer. The use of “mon” and “de” to indicate Caribbean dialect comes off as stale and veers into caricature, and Willerton avoids mentioning race, with the result that his Virgin Islands are default white, like the Franklins.
A quick read with a solid plot, but it’s certainly more educational than literary. (Adventure. 10-14)