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Book Reviews: DEAD MAN'S COVE (A LAURA MARLIN MYSTERY)


Dead man's Cove

Authoress: Lauren St John

Readers' Rating - 3.8 

Critics' Rating - 3.2 

Laura is an orphan 11 year old girl living in Sylvan Meadows Children's Home. She is a bastard child, and she had accepted her situation with a brave face. She loved reading, her favourite being the fictional detective Matt Walker. She had an inquisitive mind and would frequently question "Why", making grownups uncomfortable with her questions. 
Her life took a different turn when the social service found out that she had an Uncle living, (from her mother side), who was willing to adopt her. Her Uncle, Calvin Redfern, lived with his wolfhound Lottie, in No.28 Ocean View Terrace, St Ives.
Upon her arrival, Laura's uncle after seeing the image of his dead sister in her, gave her almost complete freedom to do as she pleased. However he asked her not to go anywhere near the coastal path, saying it was close to Dead Man's cove and it could be dangerous. 
There was a housekeeper, Mrs. Webb, and Laura didn't much like her. Mrs. Webb didn't quite know how to manage a house though the food she prepared was good. 
The next day after her settling in at Ocean View Terrace, she went to a cafe all by herself. While she was helping herself to a mug of hot chocolate, there chanced to be a commotion outside. Two dogs were in a fight, and the men were looking helplessly. Suddenly, an Asian boy named Tariq came up, and somehow pacified the dogs, preventing something terrible. Tariq was supposed to be the adopted son of Mr. and Mrs. Mukhtar and worked in the North Star Grocery store. Laura was curious to know more about him, which she did from her neighbour Mrs. Crabtree. 
As Laura gets accustomed to St Ives, and her new life she begin's to wonder about her Uncle's work that kept him tired and sometimes absent during the nights. He had said he worked for the Fisheries, counting fishes. Laura finds it weird that sometimes her Uncle goes out in the night with his wolfhound on the coastal path. 
Laura tries to befriend Tariq. Mrs. Mukhtar says that Tariq can't understand English and she had to teach him, but still he fails to speak though he can understand. Laura visits the North Star several times in absence of Mr. Mukhtar, when she sees Tariq alone. They become friends and she learns a new word "Dhonnobad", from Tariq, which she presumes to be a Hindi word, meaning "Thank You".
She notices bruises in Tariq's hand and asks about it, to which he gives some lame excuse of having fallen down. Laura suspect's child abuse, but can't prove it with certainty. 
And then Laura gets a secret message in a bottle from someone while going to her school, "Can I trust you?" And it leads to further exchange of messages secretly without knowing the identity of the person.
Laura wants to talk about Tariq, but can she confide in her Uncle, whose nature and work is also suspicious? Her Uncle seemed intent on forgetting his own past. What was he hiding from?

The book is a suspense-mystery written with Enid Blyton's mystery series (most probably Famous Five) style. Though, it is not at par with the Famous Five, Dead Man's Cove tells beautifully the story a young girl who is curious about everything that goes around in her small world. The story, the villain, and the country setup is similar to Famous Five- Five Go Down to the Sea, only that instead of drugs and treasures, there is human trafficking. Laura fits perfectly into the character of Georgiana, better known as George. 
As a critic I would say, the authoress has done good work in detailing the sketch of the protagonist only, while there are faint outlines of the supporting characters. She also needs to know the difference between uploading and downloading, from the internet. And she has to keep in mind that Skye (Laura's dog), had only three legs, and so keeping its head in its front paws is difficult to imagine. The story has too much mention of Matt Walker, that sometimes we wished Matt Walker doing the investigations instead of Laura.

As a reader, I loved the feel of the story. It took me twenty years back in my time, when I was reading Enid Blyton's Famous Five. Though the beginning makes you apprehensive, thinking it to be some Oliver Twist novel, but as the story moves, it grabs the imagination of the young mind. The authoress has explored the Language well, and even I (being a Hindi and Bengali speaker), was surprised that Tariq turned out to be a Bangladeshi boy. It was something the authoress had put up as a final climax to her well written book.
As I last word I would say, If you like Enid Blyton and if you are a young teen, you will love the book.


Book Reviews: DEAD MAN'S COVE (A LAURA MARLIN MYSTERY) Reviewed by Polymath on 2:24 pm Rating: 5

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