“The Silent Witness Mystery” by Dorian Rockwood

“The Silent Witness Mystery” by Dorian Rockwood 663 1024 Reader Views Kids

The Silent Witness Mystery

Dorian Rockwood
Insundry Productions Books (2024)
ISBN: 978-1962056021
Reviewed by Justin Gaynor for Reader Views (04/2024)

In “The Silent Witness Mystery” by Dorian Rockwood main characters Paul and Dan are identical twins, old enough to drive but still in high school.  They understand that underage drinking, smoking, and swearing are off limits – these things are not good for you.  They also seem to understand that interfering with an extortion ring run by guys named Nicci and Vinnie isn’t good for you either, but this doesn’t stop them for a moment.   After all, there’s respect for the law to consider.  And if that weren’t enough, one of these goons started picking on the wrong family.  Big mistake, pal.

This second installment of the Case Twins Adventures is pitched as a Teen & Young Adult book.   Well, I’m an old adult, and I thought it was just peachy.  Set in the mid-20th century, it could almost have been a science fiction story, really – the main characters are clearly humans, but they spend their time actually talking to one another, rather than staring at their phones all day. Because their father was killed in WWII, they cook, they wash dishes, and they work after school for spending money.   It almost felt like a visit to another planet.  One brother is a boxer, and the other is an oil painter and photographer – and wouldn’t you know it, both skills prove crucial as they work to bring down the bad guys.

The book starts with good-natured verbal sparring between the brothers, and things get off to a rather slow start as we get to know them.  The teens have girlfriends named Betty and Donna, and a few other characters pop up, but the twins really dominate the book, appearing in nearly every scene.   Luckily, they are likable and realistic – or at least, what I imagine clean-cut Midwestern kids in the early 1950s must have been like.  Rockland even pokes a little fun at himself: 

“Who do you think you are, the Hardy Boys?” Mr. Wilson thundered.

p. 80

Well, the thought had crossed my mind.

Unfortunately, the idyllic life in their small town of Farmington is threatened by crime spilling over from the nearby city of Belmont.  The pace starts to pick up when a couple of underworld thugs see Paul’s skills in the boxing ring and try to recruit him into their gang.  Nothing doing – but now Paul is a marked man, and the pace starts to pick up rapidly.  The boys chase down various leads trying to determine exactly who it is that is threatening the town.

In the final couple of chapters, by which time we’ve grown to care about these kids, the tension is really cranked up.  We can all imagine the creeping dread of being trapped in a sinister place with the bad guys closing in.   Rockwood is clever enough to make it a big sinister place, so we spend a couple of chapters biting our nails, wondering how it’s going to turn out.  

Some readers may not gravitate toward the vanilla flavor of this endeavor – there is no hint of today’s complex, multi-hued society in Farmington.  But readers willing to overlook that will find a well-written story, both in plotting and mechanics in “The Silent Witness Mystery” by Dorian Rockwood.  If you’re looking for a quick vacation from cynicism or simply a great teen read, this will be just swell, by golly. 

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