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Reviewed by Paul Johnson for Readers' Favorite
It's March 1942, three months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor bringing American into World War II. Twelve-year-old Mark Penn is playing war, honing his skills to one day be a marine. Out near the old Beck place, he sees something that at first he can’t believe. A new family has moved into the area and, they look Japanese!
Robert Matsui, his wife Rose, and twelve-year-old daughter Ann have moved from Bakersfield, California, to Middleton, Minnesota, during the two-month period when Japanese-Americans are allowed to voluntarily relocate from the west coast before they would be sent to internment camps.
Joe and Fred Beck offer the family a vacant house on the Middleton Ridge near their residence. The reclusive brothers are under surveillance by the FBI as Nazis.
While watching the Matsuis, Mark sees Joe Beck give Mr. Matsui a Luger. Mark is too young to join up and go to war, but he hopes that he can aid the war effort by finding out if the Matsuis really are spies.
Mark tells his pal Swede Larson, and they report their discovery to Police Chief Karl Morton. Unknown to them, Morton is the local area FBI liaison. Morton orders them to stay away from the Matsuis. The boys ignore him and soon become involved in the FBI's scheme. When their lives are jeopardized they realize that playing war can be a very deadly game.
I really enjoyed this book. The characters were well defined and memorable. As I read, I could easily see the boys, out in the woods trying to catch spies. The plot was simple with just enough intrigue to keep the reading wanting to know more. Along with that, the book contains a strong message, simply put, things are not always as they seem. Well done.