cover image The Smugglers

The Smugglers

Iain Lawrence. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $15.95 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-385-32663-6

In the wake of Lawrence's The Wreckers comes this companion novel, a second riveting high-sea adventure featuring swashbuckling characters, salty dialogue and a taut succession of cliffhangers. The author successfully conjures an aura of mystery and tension around The Dragon, a schooner once used to smuggle goods (and men) between England and France. Now John Spencer and his merchant father want to use the boat for honest trade, but as soon as they purchase The Dragon, they seem to be touched by its curse: someone murders the captain they've hired before the ship sets sail; his replacement, blustery Captain Crowe, turns out to be a scoundrel who hires a crew of criminals. During the first leg of the voyage, John receives a cryptic warning to ""beware the one who seems least likely"" to harm him. But which man could it be? Wrought in the tradition of a 19th-century serial, this novel moves along at a clip via brief episodic chapters and complicated twists. Naive to the ways of experienced con men, John has his work cut out for him, but his bravery and high morals earn him the rank of hero. Ages 10-14. (May)