Tom Slade on the River

September 11, 2017

Tom Slade on the River is set a year after Tom Slade at Temple Camp, but it feels like the second half of the same book, and only partly because it resolves a mystery that was set up in Temple Camp.

The first section combines most of my favorite things about Tom Slade. When the scouts arrive at Temple Camp and find a clue indicating that someone is injured and stranded on a mountain, Tom is the only one who immediately decides to try to find him. Everyone else just kind of accepts that something awful is happening, but for Tom it’s a matter of course that he has to at least try to do something.

The small expedition is a success, mostly thanks to Tom. Most of the scouts appreciate that, but the object of their rescue, Jeffrey Waring, gives all the credit to the signaling skills of Garry Everton, much to everyone else’s disgust. It all turns out okay, though: Garry, the son of an alienist, is the scout best fitted to help Jeffrey with his mental health issues. (Percy Keese Fitzhugh: not your ordinary boys’ series writer.)

After the Bridgeboro scouts’ two weeks at Temple Camp are up, they go down the river to Nyack, wrap up their mystery, and then head up to Plattsburgh, having minor adventures along the way. The book feels a little lopsided–someone else misunderstands Tom in the second half, but it’s not as central a thing. The plot’s not important–what you want (what I want) from these books is for Tom to be amazing and then go on being amazing in the face of people doubting him. And Fitzhugh provides more of that in the first half than in the second. It’s fine, though: that next book is all that.


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