cover image Reef of Death

Reef of Death

Paul Zindel / Author HarperCollins Publishers $15.95 (192p) IS

Continuing his run of thrill-a-chapter adventures set in exotic locations (e.g., Loch and The Doom Stone), Zindel now takes readers to Australia's Great Barrier Reef. There, Maruul, an Aboriginal girl, and her American friend, PC McPhee, dive for lost treasure in dangerous waters. If the teens can recover a portion of an unspecified treasure that has belonged to Maruul's tribe since ancient times, her village will have ample funds to fight off threats from ""a lot of big business guys and sleazy politicos."" First, however, the duo must contend with a man-eating sea monster that has already devoured Maruul's brother and PC's uncle. The plot stays gruesome as the young adventurers explore a mysterious freighter, match wits with a mad scientist (who controls the carnivorous fish) and narrowly escape various death traps on ship and under the sea. The author offers a maximum of gore and gimmicks. On a literary-merit scale, this deep-seas escapade falls several leagues beneath the author's best work, but rises above many other books in the thriller genre. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)