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Mystery at Lake Placid by R. MacGregor

MacGregor, Roy. Mystery at Lake Placid. 1995. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2013. Print.

This Young Adult mystery novel is the story of Travis Lindsay, a twelve year old boy, and his Canadian peewee hockey team, the Screech Owls, while they play at an international tournament. Travis dreams of being an NHL hockey player someday, even though he’s small for his age and still afraid of the dark. He is not the star of his team, the title of which belongs to team captain Sarah Cuthbertsome, but Travis is a great skater, stick handler, and is very passionate about the sport and his team. The Screech Owls is a diverse team, with people of all backgrounds including the excitable and loyal Nish, the science fiction fanatic “Data”, the clever strategist Fahd, the ambitious Dmitri, the loveable and humourous coach Muck, team trainer Mr. Dillinger, and his son, Derek.

In this novel, the Screech Owls team is on their way to Lake Placid, New York, where they will play at an international peewee tournament, and potentially be seen by scouting agents for other important hockey teams. This tournament is even more exciting for the team, because they get to play on an Olympic rink in a huge arena.

Almost as soon as the team arrives, however, things seem to go wrong for them. At the hotel, people keep knocking on star player Sarah’s door, stopping her from sleeping and making her too tired to play. Next, Travis is knocked down in the street by a player from another team at the tournament. Finally, Sarah’s equipment is tampered with and damaged on multiple occasions during the night. The Screech Owls believe that these acts are not random, but that someone is sabotaging the team. They must use their combined skills to figure out who the culprit is. In the process, Travis challenges his own limits and witnesses the importance of teamwork and forgiveness.

Roy MacGregor, the author of the novel, is also a sports columnist for the Globe and Mail. This background gives MacGregor excellent insight into the hockey world in both a national and international level, and he brings the sport to life through his detailed accounts of a hockey game. The novel takes great care in describing the workings of a team, and the various roles that coaches, parents, and other team members play. Important themes about competition, forgiveness, teamwork, and gender roles are conveyed through this detail, and MacGregor shows both the good and bad side of being caught up in the love of a sport.

Mystery at Lake Placid is part of a larger series of twenty-two novels focused on the Screech Owls as they travel around the world for tournaments, and solve mysteries. It is also a re-publication, the original novel was published in 1995, but the story remains contemporary and engaging, partly due to its humour, light action, and well-developed characters. This book will appeal to a wide audience of children and young adults interested in sports or mystery stories.

Highly Recommended: 4 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Colette Leung

Colette Leung is a graduate student at the University of Alberta, working in the fields of Library and Information science and Humanities Computing who loves reading, cats, and tea. Her research interests focus around how digital tools can be used to explore fields such as literature, language, and history in new and innovative ways.