The Book of Mormon Sleuth 3, The Hidden Path
C. B. Andersen
Deseret Book , 2003. Quality Paperback:
Suggested retail price: $9.95 (US)
The Hidden Path is the third volume in Andersen's popular "Book ofMormon Sleuth" series. It continues the adventures of the Andrewsfamily, in particular their bright and courageous children. The seriesis aimed toward the younger generation.
The first entry in the series introduced us to the Andrews clan, aLatter-day Saint family strong in faith and devotion to the Church. Theplot involved a Dr. Anthony, an evil man out to steal a rare edition ofthe Book of Mormon owned by an aunt of the Andrews children. He isultimately apprehended and imprisoned. The story was well written andcleverly crafted.
The second book takes an entirely different course. The family isawarded a free Alaskan cruise, but things go horribly bad, and they endup in a strange land when their airplane crash-lands in a remote regionwhere they meet up with a "lost tribe," befriending many of them andleaving copies of the Book of Mormon with their leaders. Theirairplane, piloted by a man named John, spills fuel onto a salt flat.Salt is central to the life and primitive worship of these people; theloss of the salt gives rise to anger and resentment.
The third volume follows from the second. A year has passed since theiradventure described in the second book. The company that awarded thefirst trip has given them another opportunity to enjoy a vacation aboardan Alaskan cruise ship. On the eve of the journey, several of thechildren wander to the pier to take a look at the ship, and meet up withJohn, the pilot from their previous adventure. He explains that a teamhad volunteered to bring supplies of salt to the "lost people," afterhaving inadvertently ruined their salt supply in their last visit. Thechildren, curious to learn about this effort, board the vessel.
But things go horribly wrong. One of the men involved in this"salt-delivery" mission is none other than Dr. Anthony, the villain ofthe first volume, who was released from prison due to a technicality..The children run and hide, not wanting to be spotted by the evil man,and as a result find themselves trapped on a luxury yacht. Before theyknow it, they're on their way back to the land of their previousadventure, leaving behind their hapless and worried parents.
If it all seems a bit contrived, one need only think back to the oldHardy Boys/Nancy Drew stories. Read from a child's point of view, theywere exciting and entertaining. Contrived plots never seemed to botherus when we were children. And, to be honest, they don't bother manyadults these days, either. When one is reading fiction, one is helpedby suspending rational powers, leaving the reader to just enjoy thestory.
And when it comes to exciting stories for young people, this book is thereal deal. I was somewhat critical of the second book, feeling that itlacked some of the coherence and imagination of the first book.Happily, Andersen is back on track, telling a story that stays on track,knows where it's going, and draws the reader into the intrigue. Hischaracters are more fully fleshed out, the story line more consistent.
As the story progresses, Andersen takes the time show draw from theScriptures, showing how their teachings are pivotal in the childrens'survival. And one cannot but be impressed with how the "lost tribe,"under the tutelage of the Book of Mormon, developed a system of ethicsand Christian values that would be welcome in any setting.
Drawing on two previous volumes, it would have been easy for Andersen toleave the new reader behind. But he is careful to re-tell those partsof the previous stories that are relevant to the current story line.This was very helpful.
I do have two comments. First, in a narrative beginning on page 69,there is a touch-and-go, and not entirely accurate, discussion of RomanCatholicism. It goes on for several pages, and when you're done, youbelieve the following: the Catholics don't think that Mormons areChristian. But how can this be, since we both believe in the NewTestament? Yeah, but the Catholics add a lot of stuff that's notscriptural. But we add stuff, too. Yeah, but we add it by inspiration.Leaving aside the simplistic nature of this dialogue, I couldn't figurehow it fit into the storyline at all. It seemed a bit gratuitous, andwould have been happier had it been omitted altogether.
And second, a minor quibble, whenever the men in the "lost tribe" referto the Book of Mormon, they call it "The Book Of Mormon -- AnotherTestament of Jesus Christ." Inasmuch as the Andrews children rarelycalled it by this name, but rather simply "The Book of Mormon," Iwondered why they didn't simply adapt to the childrens' preference.Instead, there is a constant repetition of the entire phrase. I wasn'tat all clear why this was necessary.
The Hidden Path, like the previous volumes, is aimed toward familieswith young children. Andersen teaches principles involving theimportance of family rituals and trust, the centrality of Scripturestudy and prayer in the life of the Latter-day Saint, and the value offaith in Christ, even when things look very bleak.
My minor quibbles aside, this is a wonderful book. Older children willrevel in the adventures; parents will appreciate the underlying messagesof love and trust. I gladly recommend this latest entry in the "Book ofMormon Sleuth" series, and look forward to the next volume. Who knows?Perhaps Dr. Anthony will appear yet again!
Jeff Needle October 12, 2003
© 2003 Jeff Needle