Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Biff Brewster #4 Mexican Treasure and #5 African Ivory Mystery

In Biff Brewster #4, Mystery of the Mexican Treasure, Biff's family has driven down to Mexico City where Mr. Brewster is helping with a mining project.  Someone is masquerading as Tizoc, an Aztec ruler, and is using his influence to pull local workers away from the mine.

On page 109, "enchiladas de pollo" are described as "Mexican pancakes stuffed with chicken."  Nowadays, we all know what an enchilada is, and we would hardly describe it as a pancake.

Biff and Mike infiltrate a meeting organized by Tizoc.  The problem is that the boys go in their regular clothes instead of dressing themselves in white like the other men.  They knew the day before that the men dress in white, and I find it strange that the boys make no effort to imitate their clothing.  As you can guess, this infiltration does not end well for the boys.

The Tizoc masquerade somewhat reminded me of the Three Investigators book, The Mystery of the Dancing Devil, which means that I found it silly at first.  Later, I decided that the Tizoc situation was rather believable.  The resolution to the mystery is not quite what the reader expects, so the climax of the story is quite thrilling.  Since the resolution was unexpected, I found the wrap-up of the mystery to be quite interesting.  

In African Ivory Mystery, Biff arrives in Kenya to join his uncle, Warren Becker, on a safari.  Biff learns that he is to aid his uncle in uncovering evidence against an ivory-smuggling ring.  The safari is led by the White Hunter, Mathews.  Another man, Wendell Henderson, joins the safari.  Henderson turns out to be a disagreeable man who views the natives as savages.

I greatly enjoyed this book.  It has everything you would expect in a series book set in Africa including quicksand, dangerous encounters with wild animals, and smugglers.

The book is suspenseful, because several of the participants in the safari behave suspiciously.

The book covers an important issue, the slaughter of elephants for their tusks.  The Brewsters are helping Interpol find the smugglers.  The hope is that by apprehending the smugglers that the sell of ivory can be slowed down, thus saving the elephant herds.  The issue continues to be of utmost importance today, since elephants continue to be slaughtered at an alarming rate, and most elephant species are now endangered.

The book depicts the slaughter of animals as unnecessary and heinous.  The safari happens upon a number of slaughtered carcasses, and Biff feels keenly the plight of the elephants.  More sensitive readers may find the content to be a bit disturbing.

I greatly enjoyed this book.

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