Death Island


169 pages
ISBN 0-590-24190-7
DDC jC813'.54





Reviewed by Dave Jenkinson

Dave Jenkinson is a professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba and the author of the “Portraits” section of Emergency Librarian.


The fourth mystery featuring Canadian teen sleuth David McCrimmon and
his Scottish confederate, Sandy MacLeod, finds them still in Scotland
and in the general setting Sutherland used in his last novel, The Ghost
of Ramshaw Castle. As well as solving another crime, the pair also take
their personal relationship beyond friendship to romance.

The action begins quickly. While seeking refuge from a sudden storm,
David and Sandy land their small boat on the deserted island of
Sgarberg, which, because of a local legend, is also known as Death
Island. There they discover the apparently drowned body of a local man,
Archie MacDonald. Though the police describe the man’s death as being
accidental, Sandy has her doubts and persuades David to join her in
uncovering who killed Archie and why. The remainder of the book contains
all the attributes of a fine juvenile mystery: a suitably small cast of
suspects; threats and attempts on the life of the hero and heroine;
mysterious and spooky settings, such as the dark dungeons of the
deserted Sgarberg Castle and the eerie moonlit Standing Stones of
Callanish; missing items and an additional murder; and a thrilling
culminating chase scene.

Though the bad guy’s identity in this well-paced mystery may come as
a surprise to some Grades 5 to 8 readers, Sutherland does supply all the
necessary clues so that attentive junior detectives could, in fact,
solve the mystery for themselves. Readers must wait, however, until the
“clearing-up” chapter to discover the killer’s motivation.


Sutherland, Robert., “Death Island,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024,