Doubloon Cove: The Secret of the Ancient Visitors, an enjoyable middle grade novel by Kelly Novak, harkens back to classic sleuths like the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and the Three Investigators.
Twelve-year-old Jeffrey Ferguson and his best friend Steven are sleeping out in Jeffrey’s fort when they’re spooked by noises, forcing them inside the house. Once inside, Jeffrey’s little sister, Cindy, reveals that random “babysitters” came shortly after their parents’ departure for a meeting and were now trying to rob their safe. They thwart the burglary, although the burglars escape. Jeffrey finds the burglars’ backpack, which he’d hidden from the police, and little do the friends know but Jeffrey’s discovery is about to embark them on the adventure of a lifetime…
Doubloon Cove has engaging characters, history, and plenty of mystery. Compellingly, it’s also set in 1992, prior to the advent of modern technology, which forces the young protagonists to rely on their wits and common sense. What also makes Novak’s story particularly engaging are the hits of action, worthy of Indiana Jones or “The Goonies.”
Despite all its positives, Doubloon Cove does require a thorough edit to correct the grammatical errors throughout, which really does mar the read overall. The dialogue is also stilted, due to the lack of contractions. Even with these deficiencies, Doubloon Cove will appeal to young mystery fans, and establishes a fresh and thrilling new series, but Novak needs to work out the kinks as the series moves forward.