With deathbed secrets and attempted murder on the itinerary, spring break in the Florida Keys proves anything but relaxing for a teen and his grandfather.
Four years after Devil’s Pass (2016), Brouwer presents this mystery prequel starring protagonist Jim Webb, now four years younger and happily anticipating a Florida vacation with his grandfather. The 13-year-old white boy soon learns, however, that his grandfather’s plans include not only a little fishing, but a mission of mercy for Jonathan Greene, a former comrade from his World War II days. On his deathbed, Greene confesses that he wants to atone for the “horrible thing” he did following the 1935 Labor Day hurricane that devastated the Keys and helped make him rich, and he seeks Webb and his grandfather’s help to “make a difference” by ensuring that his fortune gets left to charity. As Webb aids the dying man and gets closer to learning Greene’s terrible secret, his own life becomes endangered, and Webb must repeatedly act quickly to outwit his pursuers. While Brouwer’s action-packed whodunit includes high jinks, a whiff of teen romance, and some thrilling chases, the exchanges between Webb and his grandfather can prove plodding, didactic, and, at times, awkwardly crafted due to the uncomfortable emotional distance between the two.
Didactic passages aside, this fast-paced mystery should appeal to Webb fans and those seeking an intrigue-filled escape to the Keys. (Adventure. 10-14)