CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 15 . . . .March 21, 2008
Hitmen Triumph. (Orca Sports)
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2007.
157 pp, pbk., $9.95.
Detective and mystery stories.
Grades 5-10 / Ages 10-15.
Review by Leanne Strang.
The rumbling didnít come as noise. It came as a vibration that hummed in my chest. Even though I was blindfolded, I turned my head, as if I needed my eyes to tell me what I already knew. The train was close and coming fast. With me stuck on the tracks....
Sigmund Brouwer unites hockey and mystery once again in Hitmen Triumph. As in his previous Orca Sports title, Blazer Drive, Brouwer uses the WHL (Western Hockey League) to provide the backdrop for his main character, Nolan Andrews, who plays on the Calgary Hitmen team.
Nolan was recently traded to the Calgary Hitmen team to play on the same line as his twin brother, Nathan. Nolanís nickname is "Radar" as he instinctively knows where his twin brother will be on the ice. Together, they have been a scoring machine! Once the brothers are reunited in Calgary Nolan immediately has trouble reading where his brother will be on the ice. The coach questions their previous abilities as a scoring team with this lack of connection they seem to have now.
Sigmund Brouwer uses great description, almost a play-by-play, of the on-ice actions of the brothers and their teammates. Any young male reader (especially the hopeful hockey player!) will surely appreciate the male point of view and description of the life of a hockey player in the WHL. The accurate accounts of life of a WHL player are great - living with a billet family, rules of the team and expectations of the player are all true to life.
Right from arriving in Calgary, Nolan is left with many questions about his brother. Nathan is less than candid about certain things he may or may not be up to. Nolan catches bits and pieces of situations in which Nathan may be involved. Nathan sneaks around and does things that are out of character for him as well as having unexplained large amounts of cash. Nolan begins to wonder if Nathan is involved in criminal activities and doesnít know what to do about it.
Of course, there is a girl involved too! Mercedes is a teenage volunteer that met the brothers at a charity golf tournament in which the Calgary Hitmen were participating. Nolan is interested in Mercedes, but she seems interested in Nathan.
The duel plot in this story switches back and forth Ė between the ice hockey focus and the mystery of Nathan and his secretive actions.
The second part of the duel plot line is the brothersí relationship and family history. The two brothers were orphaned when they were young and had led separate lives on opposite teams for the last season. Now being reunited and not being able to score together like they used to is causing friction and frustration.
Nolan is also hearing impaired and has had surgery to install some very expensive and high-tech hearing aids. These hearing aids come in handy during secretive and undercover investigations!
Nolan and Mercedes form a team and investigate Nathanís mysterious actions. Nolan learns some family history that he did not know before and starts to put all his brotherís actions together with this new found knowledge. Together, Nolan and Mercedes unravel an illegal ring involving pirated DVDs. This storyline is interesting as many kids today have grown up in the technological world and donít seem to think twice about downloading a song or a movie and not realizing they may be pirating the copy illegally and without permission.
Good information put into simple words that may help an adolescent better understand the ramifications of illegally purchasing illegal copies of movies!
The reader is taken back and forth between the mystery and the ice hockey plots. Brouwer is certain to capture the reluctant readerís attention with this story that is both enjoyable and a real page turner!
Leanne Strang provides pre-school Story Time at the local public library in Grand Forks, BC. She has three boys who are voracious readers and keep her in the storytelling mode at all times! She is also a horribly psychotic hockey fan of the WHLís Vancouver Giants!
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