Imagine you’re a nine year old boy. Now imagine an American, oil-drilling, ex-pat community in the middle of the Venezuelan jungle. Enter Avery McShane, his best friends – Todd and Billy, and his dog, Mati. They call themselves the Machacas, have a secret hideout, and for fun, go on banana-stealing missions to the local plantation.
Liking it so far?
The Machacas certainly were, until they uncovered diamond smugglers, a kidnapping and a brutal murder. Armed with slingshots and a rucksack of fireworks, the motley crew go on the mission of their lives.
This tightly written adventure is full of pace, action and tension with a gentle sprinkling of humour. Lyons wonderfully evokes the exotic environs of a South American rainforest, which is not surprising when you learn that the author grew up in such a place, and seems to have led a life as wild and exciting as Avery McShane’s.
My only quibble (and it is a tiny one) is that the book is pitched at the wrong age. Avery is supposed to be twelve, but to my mind, he is much younger; and therefore I would pitch the book at a younger readership of 8/9+. With not a hormone or girl in sight, this is a good, old-fashioned boy’s adventure.
Now it’s time to imagine you’re a sensible grown up again. That’s the feeling you get when you finish Avery McShane and the Silver Spurs.