Forest Secrets : Ghosts come in many guises

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forest secrets

LAING, David Forest Secrets: Ghosts come in many guises JoJo Pub, 2013 200pp 18.99 pbk ISBN 9780987358561 SCIS 1641298

Millions of years ago a rhotosaurus flees for safety from the destructive searing asteroid, which was to destroy all dinosaur life, to a waterhole in a deep gorge.  This provides the opening chapter of a new spooky adventure by David Laing to complete a trilogy featuring Jars (Jacinta) Kelly, a part Aboriginal girl from the Northern Territory who has lost her parents and brother, and is now 15, living with her aunt, uncle, her cousin Snook and faithful German Shepherd dog Shadow at Cray Bay, a fishing village in western Tasmania near Queenstown.

Snook becomes disoriented when he sees ghosts of the fleeing rhotosaurus and of a young boy and finds Jars, the narrator, can see them too.  His girlfriend, Gloria, is concerned at the change in Snook and so is her father, the local doctor, who accepts the disturbing visions from the spirit world are not just imagination and investigates the disappearance of young Aaron Cooper sixty years earlier.  Snook and Jars decide to enter a photographic competition and arrange to look for animals to photograph at the nearby camping reserve, but their efforts are interrupted by the aptly named Reginald Blowhard, who chooses to ignore the camping rules and has to be rescued from drowning from a flash flood in the Mucky Lagoon.  It is the Lagoon which gives up its secrets when Snook and Jars find . . .

This exciting well-developed mystery story with its dramatic turns should be an absorbing read for ages 8 to 13 with plenty of informative insights and humorous asides in its varied cast of characters, for the illustrator, Steve Howells, to add appropriate comic line drawings along with a useful map as frontispiece.  Readers of the author’s two earlier books should be well satisfied with this completion of the trilogy.

reviewed by John D Adams

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