If you like Blyton: Kidnap in the Caribbean by Lauren St John

Stef and I have both reviewed the first Laura Marlin mystery: Dead Man’s Cove. I borrowed the second book in the series, Kidnap in the Caribbean, ages ago and have finally read it so I thought I would review it as well.

A reminder of the first book

Honestly, I can’t remember much about the first book, but then I have a terrible memory when it comes to books. I can read the same who-done-it several times as long as it’s a few years apart and still not remember who done it.

What I do remember (reading my review helped…) is that Laura Marlin is an orphan who was living in an orphanage until she was sent to live with her uncle Calvin Redfern who lives in Cornwall.

Calvin turns out to be a rather mysterious person who says he works for the fisheries department, investigating fishermen who over fish etc, but Laura soon works out that there is more to his job and life than he lets on.

She makes friends with Tariq who is also an orphan, though at first he is living with two people who claim to be his parents. They are in fact entirely unrelated to him, and have bought him as a slave as he is skilled in tapestry making. These people then get involved with the Straight As gang who Laura, Tariq and Calvin are working against, and as the story has a happy ending Tariq is freed from his slavery and he ends up being fostered by a nice couple in St Ives. (I had to look through the first book to check most of those details…) Laura also ends up with a three-legged husky called Skye.

Dead-Mans-Cove Lauren St John

And so for their second adventure

Under slightly strange circumstances Laura has won a cruise for two to the Caribbean and after some hard work persuading her uncle that is is a good idea, the two pack their suitcases. Tariq and Skye come along to say goodbye, and after having a sneaky tour of the ship end up accidentally staying on board when the ship sets sail!

This would be a big enough problem to deal with if Uncle Calvin could help them, but he can’t as he somehow fell down the stairs on board and is laid up in his cabin on strong pain medication.

Kidnappers in the Caribbean

Laura, Tariq and Skye manage to look after themselves for a few days on board the cruise ship. They avail themselves of the many kinds of entertainment and of the food, of course.

There is the slight worry that Uncle Calvin thought Laura had been sneaking around his room in the night, but she knows it wasn’t her, so who was it? And there’s some hooks at the side of the stairs Uncle Calvin fell down, but no carpet or anything loose he could have tripped over.

Then a group of actors, performing as pirates, board the Ocean Empress and Laura thinks they were serious about stuffing her into a chest, though she’s rescued by Tariq However, that’s not the kidnap that the book’s title refers to.

In fact it’s ambiguous, as there are two kidnaps that occur. First Uncle Calvin disappears – and all his belongings, too, and worse the ship’s staff refuse to believe he was even there as they’ve never seen him!

So when a flashy couple board the ship and announce themselves as Laura and Tariq’s parents, the ship’s staff easily believe them. Especially as the cabins were booked by the couple’s travel company. Laura and Tariq are then rather stuck. Do they insist they’ve never met these people in their lives, and hope the ship staff believe them – but then that leaves them accused of being illegal stowaways. Or do they go with their false parents to get off the ship, and hope to find Uncle Calvin?

I think you can guess what they do.


Kidnap on the Caribbean Ship of Adventure

I found some similarities between this book and The Ship of Adventure. Nothing major, but just a couple of parallels that could be drawn.

First up is the fact that Skye and Tariq shouldn’t be on board at all. But with the help of a few kindle staff members, their needs are taken care of. Tariq is safe to wander the ship, but Skye needs food brought to the cabin and a way of exercising. This is not dissimilar to the fact that Kiki, and later Mikey, should not be on the Viking Star, yet the steward and stewardess for the children’s cabins keep their secret.

Then there’s Jimmy. In The Ship of Adventure the children get stuck with Lucian as they’re the only children of a similar age on the ship. They don’t particularly like him but they mostly tolerate him. They very much dislike his uncle, though.

Laura and Tariq get saddle with Jimmy, who although is loud and overconfident compared to Lucian’s gawky awkwardness, is still a bit of an unwelcome addition. His parents are similarly loud and annoying. The difference here is that Jimmy is putting on a front and becomes more likeable as the book goes on.

My thoughts

I don’t think this was as good as the first in the series but I still enjoyed it.

The plot can be a bit silly at times – the free holiday and everything that happens after at was a carefully orchestrated plan by the baddies, which relied on so so many things going exactly to plan, so it’s all a bit over the top. (For example if Uncle Calvin had refused the holiday, or agreed to see the ship’s doctor after his fall it would all have fallen apart.)

The portion on the ship was probably best, I enjoyed as the tension slowly rose with every strange occurrence, though it was nicely interspersed with some lighter moments.

What happens after they leave the ship isn’t necessarily bad – there’s an escape, some hiding out and the oft-used breaking into the dangerous place in order to affect a rescue. The end scenes resemble a children’s version of a particularly cheesy Bond-movie, down to the threat of poisonous sea snails, plus the bumbling presence of Jimmy and his family, but it’s still fun all the same.

This is worth reading if you’ve already started the series (though I wouldn’t start with it) and I plan to continue with the Laura Marlin Mysteries.

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