The Volcano of Doom by Sigmund Brouwer has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the 15th book in the “Accidental Detectives” series.
Ricky Kidd goes to Hawaii with his family and his two best friends — Mike and Lisa— for what he hopes is a relaxing vacation. The Kidds are there to visit his father’s longtime friend Norbert and attend Norbert’s wedding.
When Norbert takes Ricky, his father and Mike shark fishing, Mike falls into the shark-infested waters — an accident that Mike claims wasn’t accidental. The next day, Mike and Ricky return to the docks with Ricky’s crush, Lisa Higgins. While searching Norbert’s boat for proof of foul play, the three teens find a jeweled Japanese statue hidden inside one of the buoys Norbert uses for fishing.
Thinking it was discarded and may have a clue to what happened to Mike, the teens remove the statue from the buoy and take it home. From the minute the small artifact is in their hands, everything goes awry.
During the next few days while the teens go sightseeing, a white-haired man demands the statue. Around this same time, their host disappears and the clues point suspiciously toward Norbert being involved with the man who is threatening them. Norbert’s fiancée is afraid that he has run out on their wedding, but the teens think he has left for criminal reasons because he is involved with some kind of waterside artifact smuggling ring.
The white-haired man attempts to steal the statue from the teens again, but fails. They decide to hide it. Someone even threatens Ricky while he’s asleep, putting a gloved hand over his mouth and claiming that if the boy doesn’t hand over the statue, people will get hurt.
When his parents wake up to quiet his crying baby sister, the intruder leaves. After several narrow escapes, the teens are finally cornered at a visit to a Hawaiian volcano. The white-haired man captures Lisa, Mike and Ricky, tying them up and claiming he’ll throw them in the lava if they scream. He takes the statue and leaves the teens tied up, but able to escape.
With Norbert still missing, and their last clue — the statue — gone, the teens are about to give up. Then suddenly they receive a lead from a friend back in the U.S. who has been researching the area for them. The friend tells Ricky, Lisa and Mike about a private art collector who lives on the island.
In a final attempt to uncover the mystery surrounding the valuable little statue, Ricky and Mike visit the collector. Ricky talks to the man, while Mike pokes around the mansion. He discovers the statue in the art collector’s possession.
Angry at being found out, the man ties the boys up in his boating shed, intending to take them out once its dark and dump them in shark-infested waters. However, the boys have had Lisa listening in on a walkie-talkie during the entire escapade, and she calls the police.
Once freed, the boys learn that the collector has been blackmailing Norbert and the white-haired man because they were deeply in debt. They were supposed to move the stolen artifact from one drop-off site to another to pay off their debt. The art collector used them to avoid the police search for the statue. The plan was shattered when the teens found the statue.
Then Norbert and the white-haired man tried to get the statue back before the art collector hurt the teens. Norbert apologizes for pushing Mike into the water while on their fishing trip. He did it so he could jump into the water and retrieve the buoy with the statue in it.
Norbert and the white-haired man apologize for their desperate actions and admit that they never intended to actually harm the teens. The police take the art collector away. While Norbert must appear in court, he is still able to have his wedding. With the mystery solved and the teens safe, Ricky, his family and his friends all have a wonderful time attending Norbert’s wedding.
When faced with hard decisions about how to treat a friend, Ricky says he tries to follow Jesus’ example. The teens go stargazing. They mention that God created the world and reflect on how the sky reminds them of God.
Ricky Kidd’s parents take their three children, and Ricky’s two friends — Lisa and Mike — on vacation and are involved with them through most of the novel. They spend a lot of time together, laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Ricky’s father goes boating with his son and his son’s friends, and he helps Ricky understand how to shark fish.
While shark fishing, Ricky and his friends vaguely discuss being eaten by sharks. Ricky’s little brother finds an eel, and thinking it is dead, shows it to Ricky. The creature is actually alive, and it bites Ricky.
Mike believes someone with malicious intent pushed him into shark-infested waters. A man tries to steal from Lisa and attempts to hit her in the face, but she throws sand in his eyes and escapes.
An intruder puts a hand over Ricky’s mouth in the middle of the night and threatens to hurt him and his family if he screams. Later, the three teens (Ricky, Mike and Lisa) are chased, captured and have their ankles, mouths and wrists bound with duct tape. Their captor threatens to throw them into boiling lava if they don’t give him the statue. Later, Ricky and Mike are bound again. Their captor threatens to throw them into the ocean with sharks.
Movies mentioned: Jaws is referenced in context of a shark fishing trip the teens take.
Pranks: The entire family does April Fools’ jokes on each other (doughnuts made out of Play-Doh, someone’s jeans glued to an old chair, etc), that are shown as harmless, but still fairly involved in preparation.
Smuggling: Norbert is illegally smuggling for a collector of stolen artifacts.
Danger: The teens give the adults basic information about their sleuthing — but still withhold some information, as it could directly accuse Mr. Kidd’s friend of wrongdoing, before they’re certain their suspicions are true. However, because of this, the teens are placed in danger several times and don’t tell their parents. At the end of the novel, the teens request help from the local police to apprehend the thieves.
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