Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle

The story begins when an aspiring journalist heads into unheard of territory. Granted David Peterson is only a freshman in high school, but the perfect story is lurking in an old man named Ruben Hart. This old man’s memory contains tales of the Prohibition period. That is what David is here for. One interview soon turns into many when Ruben speaks of himself in a tiny town where corruption and alcohol consume the lives of the people. Ruben tells of a time when he was a young boy and he and his best friend Jeddy McKenzie are on the beach when they find a dead man in a shallow tidal pool. Judging by the gunshot in his neck and the fancy gold watch that he wears, they suspect that he has something to do with the rumrunners or the Black Duck, the elusive smuggling boat. By the time the local police arrive, the body has disappeared. Soon the search for a mysterious ticket for a massive order of liquor is nowhere to be found. Young Ruben doesn’t know that he will soon be floundering at the center of this whirlpool of three gangs wanting the shipment for their own profit. David find himself immersed in this tale when alcohol and money are the driving forces of existence, and you can’t be sure of whom to trust. What is the right side of the law? And is it wrong if the whole town is profiting from it? Secrets that have held this town this together may very well tear it apart.

A quick read historical fiction book that once started is hard to put down. I found that the transitions between flashbacks and present were surprisingly smooth. Chapters would switch between the present where David was interviewing Ruben, and a flashback when Ruben was telling the story. All of the characters in the tiny town come to life under the artistry of Janet Taylor Lisle. Every person, whether it be young Ruben or Mildred, the police secretary, have personalities that are most memorable. The climax crept up on me because it came sooner than I expected it to. Soon even the reader is guessing about who is on the right side of the law. Charlie Pope is the deputy police officer is a shady character. So if the police are in on the rum running business than who can the innocent trust? Quick moving with many twists and turns, this is a great book to read on a summer day.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 14
Reviewer City, State and Country: Belton, Missouri USA