Kin Platt Phyllis Cohen - Essay

Phyllis Cohen

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Sinbad and Me] is a mystery story with character! It's breezy, funny, brash, clever, and frightening in turn. There are a number of puzzles all tied up in one good solution, and though it may sound as if the author has tried to work in every time-tested gimmick, the book doesn't sound tired and old-hat. It's fast moving!

There are all of these familiar elements—wonderful dog, pirate treasure, secret panels, caves, codes, ciphers, gamblers, family feuds, counterfeiting, old-world superstitions, haunted house, unsolved murder, missing map, invisible ink, and more.

But the young hero is not typical. For one thing, his hobby is old houses and antiques, and he is quite knowledgeable about these. For another, he has flunked his science course and is attending summer school to make it up. (He likes his teacher, he can pass the course, but he is completely disinterested in the subject—and remains unreconstructed.) He has tenacity and perseverance just like Sinbad, his wonderful bulldog. He doesn't set out to solve mysteries or play a lone hand. He reports odd happenings to the sheriff who is an intelligent, interesting, and observant man. (Hooray!)

Steve's friends are unusual, too. Herky is an authentic genius with total recall and a photographic memory. Mrs. Teska is old and crippled, speaks broken English, and is shrewd and kind. The science teacher skin dives and collects coins. Steve takes it...

(The entire section is 406 words.)