The Lightship Mystery



Book: The Lightship Mystery

Author: Mary Adrian

Illustrator: Joshua Tolford

Publisher: Hastings House, 1969

ISBN-13: 978-0803842632

ISBN-10: 0803842635

Language level: 2

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 10-14

Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

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Adrian, Mary.  The Lightship Mystery (published in 1969 by Hastings House Publishers, New York City, NY  10016). Twelve-year-old Dick Malone lives with his parents in Astoria, OR.  His father, a fisherman, has just bought a new (to them) thirty foot fishing troller, the White Dolphin, and this year Dick gets to spend the summer as his dad’s shipmate.  Dick’s best friends are Katie Peters, a neighbor whose father runs an automobile repair garage, and Andy Davis, whose father is also a fisherman with his own boat.  Dick’s Uncle Ned works on the lightship Columbia which guards Astoria’s harbor.  Dick is looking forward to an exciting summer, and to add to it, a federal Treasury agent named Hill asks for help in uncovering a smuggling operation.

Dick and his father agree to do what they can to aid the government.  It might be anyone, including their neighbor and friends, but Dick must be careful not to accuse someone without hard proof.  How can he find clues?  Could it be Mr. MacReady with his Kitty Sue, or Mr. Stuck with his Neptune, or even Mr. Davis with his Skipjack?  And what will happen when they all get caught out in a terrible storm?  I have always liked mysteries, and this “Double H Keep Reading Book,” which I picked up at our local library because it looked like a fast and easy read while I was waiting for another book on reserve to come in, is the kind of story that I really enjoyed reading as a kid.

There are some common euphemisms (golly, gee, gosh), but no major objectionable elements are found.  A lot of interesting background information about salmon and crab fishing is included.  Also there is a sense of strong family and community ties.  One thing which I liked was how the author enunciated principles of conservation without delving into the wacko environmentalism common in a lot of children’s books like this today.  And while one would not call this a “Christian” book, it is noteworthy that during the storm it is specifically mentioned that Dick prays.  Some similar books by author Mary Adrian include The Fireball Mystery, The Tugboat Mystery, The Rare Stamp Mystery, The Fox Hollow Mystery, The Skin Diving Mystery, The Mystery of the Night Explorers, The Indian Horse Mystery, The Kite Mystery, The Uranium Mystery, The Firehouse Mystery, and The Mystery of the Dinosaur Bones, among others.

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