A Trap of Gold or A Stranger In The Dark


Book: A Trap of Gold or A Stranger In The Dark

Author: Alison Smith

Jacket Illustrator: Mary Beth Schwark

Publisher: Dodd Mead,1985

ISBN-13: 9780396087212

ISBN-10: 0396087213

Language level: 3

(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 12-15

Rating: **** 4 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Category: Mystery

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

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     Smith, AlisonA Trap of Gold or A Stranger In The Dark (Published in 1985 by Dodd Mead and Company, New York City, NY).  Fourteen year old Margaret Cassidy lives on a farm in Cade County by the Lazy River near River Bend somewhere in the southern United States with her father Frank, step-mother (for a year and a half) Connie, and older brother Bud who is going to be a senior in high school.  When Margaret was five her mother died.  Her father has gone out west on a big engineering job that will probably keep him away all summer.  Her married sister Lilian has left her husband and moved back in with the Cassidys with her three young children and her bossy, nagging ways.  Connie’s Aunt Belle often stops by and usually criticizes Margaret and her father.   Margaret’s best friend is George Wilson.

     It is June, and Margaret loses a golden nugget that she is entrusted temporarily with and wears on a chain.  It’s from an abandoned mine and has been handed down from her father’s side for generations.  She enlists George’s help to go look for it or locate another one.  However, when she goes on a quest to replace it, she ends up finding much more than what she set out for as she sees and hears a mysterious, shadowy figure watching her while she searches for the lost gold nugget.  Will she find the nugget or one to replace it?  Who is the mysterious stranger?  And what happens when Margaret and George are trapped in a flash flood?  Aside from some common euphemisms (e.g., “darn” and “heck”), the term “Hell” is used, though not as a curse word, and the phrase “O Lord” is found as an exclamation.  But it is actually a pretty good story that keeps readers going simply because they want to see how the events will turn out.

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