Danger in Dead Man’s Mine is a great book, especially for reluctant readers. The Mackenzie Davis Files (this book is third in the series) is set in 1912 on the prairies. The author does a terrific job of settling the reader into the era without being too obtrusive. It’s possible that the younger reader will not even notice the quaint details, like the fact that dishes are washed in a basin, not a sink, using soap flakes, not detergent, and the dirty water is carefully toted outside to water the vegetables.
Mackenzie travels with his mother and sister to Lethbridge, so that his mother can take care of his pregnant aunt. Since his uncle is sick, his aunt is bedridden, and his mother has her hands full with the household, Mackenzie and his cousins are at loose ends.
Unlike a lot of books, the author doesn’t make the mistake of allowing his protagonist to make extravagant changes and experience sweeping success. Instead, he shows the boys hunts gophers for a few pennies (there is a bounty on the tails) or doing oddjobs for local businessmen to bring in extra income for the family.
What Mackenzie really learns is the power of a community to pull together and support itself in times of crisis, a theme seen over and over again in the mining community of Number Three. Strike, sickness, poverty and disaster cannot overcome when neighbors put aside their differences and lean on each other.
All in all, a strong book for demonstrating hard work, perseverance and grace under pressure.
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