The Man with Three Fingers (by Malcolm Saville)

From time to time I like re-reading my teenage favourite novels, and one series I always enjoyed was the 'Lone Pine' series by Malcolm Saville. These books feature a club of children who swear loyalty to each other; the youngest are a delightful pair of twins, Dickie and Mary, who remain at nine or ten years old for twenty books. The older children, however, gradually grow up in the later books and learn at a deeper level what lifelong loyalty will mean to them.

'Man with Three Fingers' is the sixteenth book in the series. It's an exciting adventure, featuring some hijacked lorries, and also some tensions between Tom Ingles, his best friend Jenny, and his new, slightly older friend Ned. Tom is feeling rather fed up with the quiet life he leads on his uncle's farm, and is struggling to gain some independence, leading to clashes with his somewhat over-protective (but very loving) aunt and uncle.

There are some thought-provoking issues which I found quite relevant as a teen, although they might seem rather dated today. They include questions about truth and honesty: knowing who to believe when two people claim that different things have happened, the importance of freedom balanced with family life, and what exactly it means to stand by one's friends.

A search for hidden treasure makes an extra sideline to this story. The writing is good, and fast-paced; my only slight quibble is that the plot relies on a couple of unlikely coincidences - although, since the action takes place in a fairly small area, I suppose they're not beyond the realms of possibility.

Recommended to anyone who likes lightweight teenage adventure fiction. Not always in print, and the Amazon marketplace prices seem extremely high - however it's the kind of book I've seen on the shelves of charity shops for a pound or two.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 14th November 2010

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