Title: Mystery of the Tempest
Author: Sam Cameron
Cover Art: Sheri
Publisher: Bold Stroke Books
Buy Link: Mystery of the Tempest: A Fisher Key Adventure
Genre: M/M YA / Mystery
Length: 252 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Raine
Summary: A fresh, fast moving, contemporary Y/A adventure novel with close links to traditional children’s mystery fiction.
Blurb: Twin brothers Denny and Steven Anderson love helping people and fighting crime alongside their sheriff dad on sun-drenched Fisher Key, Florida. Steven likes chasing girls. Denny longs to lose his virginity, but doesn’t dare tell anyone he’s gay. Steven has a secret of his own. He lied to everyone, including his own brother, about being accepted into SEAL training for the U.S. Navy.
On the day they graduate high school, the twins meet the handsome new guy in town, a military veteran with a chiseled body and mysterious past. Meanwhile Brian Vandermark, a gay transfer student from Boston, finds himself falling for closeted Denny but hampered by his shyness. When an antique yacht explodes in Fisher Key harbor, all three boys are caught up in a summer of betrayal, romance, and danger. It’s the Mystery of the Tempest-—and it just might kill them all.
With an age range perception of approximately 12 to18 the Young Adult novel has a tough remit. This book’s decidedly retro title sent me back the books I voraciously consumed as a child- the now often criticised Famous Five Adventures where children in the summer holidays, ran free from parental influence and solved mysteries, usually involving buried treasure. While trying not to labour the point in this book we have twins- a popular choice for juvenile fiction, who at eighteen have just graduated high school with a local reputation for being plucky, ‘ boy detectives ‘ . I did wonder if Sam Cameron was aiming for a pastiche here, but rather it is simply what it appears to be; a fast moving, very traditional adventure story, with some well written and funny insight into adolescent emotional conflicts- straight and gay.
However the lovely and detailed setting of this series in the Florida Keys with it’s sun, sea, boats and vacation atmosphere did add to the whole, ‘ adventure in the hols ‘ vibe for me. There is a real sense of the local community these popular boys have grown up in, including family friends, both adult and from school. This background depth adds to the pressure Steven and Denny feel they have with their hidden problems. Steven is pretending he hasn’t been rejected by the U.S. Marine corp for SEAL training and Denny is hiding his sexuality from anyone other than Steven.
The relationship between the twin’s works very well and we get both their points of view and some fun dialogue during the story. Steven is socially confident, insightful and enthusiastically straight. The very funny Secret Yearbook in his head has his own picture captioned, ” Most Likely to Overcompensate.” Denny, thoughtful and intelligent is struggling not with accepting that he is gay but much more with the issues of coming out. The future he wants with the Coast Guard Service seems to insist on him hiding his sexuality.
There is a nice sense of the difference between the local community who live and work in the area with the often affluent vacationing incomers. Other visitors fill more obvious plot requirements. Nathan Carter-military veteran and gay- neatly provides an outside adult role model for both twins. While Brian, an openly gay and recent addition to the school provides another reflective voice in the story and we see the twins and in particular Denny through his eyes. He is of obvious interest to Denny, provoking introspection and additional showers. I thought that even taking into account the restrictions within the Y/A criteria the sexual development for Denny was very tame. Steven gets a lot more action and his relationship struggles with the strong minded Kelsey were often very funny.
The mystery plot of the story is fast moving, with adventure action included and works well enough. I found the links with Shakespeare’s The Tempest a little clumsy but somehow it seemed yet another nostalgic link to childhood reading.
I have read many YA novels which are dark, deeply provocative and challenging. This is not one of those. It’s evolution from the basic structure of children’s adventure books gives this book a style that is fresh, clean cut and conventional. However the writing adds a layer of contemporary perception to the mystery framework that combines to create an appealing and very readable book.