By Ekta R. Garg
September 30, 2015
Rated: Borrow it
A pre-teen boy gets kidnapped and must figure out how to escape from his abductors. Along the way he realizes he shares a common obsession with one of the kidnappers: to know the truth about the town’s resident rich, mysterious hermit. The boy faces a choice. Should he help the kidnapper or focus his energy on getting away? Author HD Smith shares with readers this plot in the well-intentioned if somewhat didactic novel Keegan’s Point, the first in the author’s The Good Bad Guys series.
Charlie Parker can’t wait for his oral report to be over. Even though he’ll be talking about his most favorite subject in the whole entire world—the mystery of the house on the nearby island called Keegan’s Point—Charlie hates making presentations. But this one’s mandatory.
It doesn’t help that he faints in class, which makes Mr. Morgan change the presentation order. This means eighth-grade bully, Sam, has to go before Charlie, and everyone knows Sam doesn’t do his work on time. So Sam decides to take it out on Charlie after school. After Charlie endures Sam’s punches, he runs to the diner his mother owns and runs.
While he’s enjoying his after-school grilled cheese, Charlie notices some odd patrons in the diner. Something about them doesn’t seem right, but Charlie just tries to mind his own business. He’s had enough trouble for one day.
In an odd twist of events, though, Charlie gets kidnapped by the patrons. They, in turn, take him to the house on Keegan’s Point. The three men have an express goal: to find the wealth of the mysterious Marcus Keegan, millionaire and the town’s resident recluse.
Rumors have abounded since Keegan’s death that his fortune sits somewhere in his home. Nick, the ringleader of the kidnapping trio, discovers Charlie’s detailed report on Marcus Keegan and decides Charlie will help him and his partners find the riches. As Charlie spends more time with the kidnappers, he begins to realize that he may actually have a chance to escape. But should he try to get away as soon as possible or go for broke and help Nick and his partners so he can learn more about Marcus Keegan?
Author HD Smith writes squarely at the level of her target middle grade audience, which results in quite a bit of “tell don’t show” type of prose. Charlie’s thoughts get mirrored in the narration; often readers will receive the same information twice within the span of a few paragraphs. More advanced readers may feel the book stutters in those sections.
Smith also allows serendipity to play a major role in the book. Charlie gets kidnapped, but a lie he tells his mother keeps anyone from being suspicious about his disappearance. Nick acts like a tough guy around his partners, but he becomes almost a big brother figure to Charlie. These and other situations keep the story squarely in a safe zone. Most parents will appreciate Smith’s discretion, but in some cases the story feels like it’s encased in a bubble.
Other story factors make the novel a little confusing: Nick’s changing accent, for instance, or the slightly convoluted story of Keegan’s background. However, readers will probably appreciate the elements of realism that occur in many places. I recommend readers Borrow Keegan’s Point.