Marcy James passionately opposes two encroachments on her wilderness life on the island of Sitka, Alaska: Ritalin for her preteen son and a proposed highway cutting straight across the rain forest.
Twelve-year-old Gavan concurs with both of his mother’s stances and joins forces with his friend Tim Bander to spy on an engineer, Dennis Kovach, hired by a pro-road group, supposedly investigating the environmental impact of the proposed road in Tongass National Forest. The juvenile espionage goes terribly wrong, however, when the boys steal the engineer’s backpack and Marcy must return it. She arranges for Gavan to accompany Kovach on a second trip, to help Kovach and make up for the theft. Tim clandestinely follows Gavan but neither Tim nor the engineer returns. Then Marcy receives an anonymous note telling her to leave Sitka for three months. The Jameses consult their closest friends, Francesca and Beth, who know the secret of the family’s financial situation. Beth suggests that Marcy leave and, when their cat is killed to reinforce the message, Marcy does, hoping that her down-to-earth fisherman husband Davy can protect Gavan and himself from the numerous perils that ring them round. Just to be sure, she returns, in disguise, with a 400-pound private detective.
Environmentally correct or not, this sophomore outing (Alaska Gray, 1994) could use a few direct routes across the wilderness of secrets. Nice family, beautiful place, absurd plot.