There are three books in this series, Code of Silence, Back Before Dark, and Below the Surface. Their author is Tim Shoemaker, who has also written several other (non-fiction) books.
I had this series recommended to me by a friend when I was in middle school, and I absolutely loved it. It’s one of those intense, action-packed, cannot-put-down type of series. The location of the books
Each of these books centers around a serious crime: the first one is robbery, the second one is kidnapping and the third one is murder. These books get pretty suspenseful, and at times slightly frightening. He wrote the books well – each character has a distinct voice and personality. The trauma they go through is very real and you almost seem to walk right alongside the characters (Cooper, Hiro, Gordy, and Lunk).
Code Of Silence: Living a Lie Comes With a Price:
“When Cooper, Hiro, and Gordy witness a robbery that leaves a man in a coma, they find themselves tangled in a web of mystery and deceit that threatens their lives. After being seen by the criminals—who may also be cops—Cooper makes everyone promise never to reveal what they have seen. Telling the truth could kill them. But remaining silent means an innocent man takes the fall, and a friend never receives justice.
Is there ever a time to lie? And what happens when the truth is dangerous?
The three friends, trapped in a code of silence, must face the consequences of choosing right or wrong when both options have their price.”
Back Before Dark: Sometimes Rescuing a Friend From Darkness Means Going In After Them:
A detour through the park leads Cooper, Gordy, Hiro, and Lunk straight into a trap, and Gordy is abducted!
The kidnapper, a brilliant high-school student with a bitter agenda, thinks it’s all a big game, but evil has a way of escalating and consuming.
Despite the best of police efforts, the
Below the Surface: Fear Can Be Buried …But That Doesn’t Mean It’s Dead:
“Something is wrong with Cooper. He’s plagued by a fear he doesn’t understand and can’t control. Cooper just wants to escape, and a summer vacation aboard the restored cabin cruiser, The Getaway, with best friends Gordy, Hiro, and Lunk seems like the perfect way to do it. Two weeks of fun—with no mysteries or life-and-death danger. That’s the plan.
But their plans are shattered the very first night when they witness a murder. Or did they? Despite their intentions of leaving the investigation to the police, narrow misses and creepy encounters lure them in. Is there really a body floating in the underwater currents of the lake? The closer they get to the truth, the deeper into danger they get. Too late they see the trap. Now each of them must face their own buried fears . . . just below the surface.”
(Note: that in this section I will focus less on the story and what I liked, and more on the content. This means I will pick at every little thing in the story, so don’t freak out if it seems like there is a lot of bad content. There isn’t. I’m just putting the stories under a microscope. 😊 Also: spoilers.)
The crime novels center around public-schooled, Christian teenagers (except for Lunk – he isn’t a Christian). Some parts could be very frightening (like the climax, or where they witness the crimes) and the series is very intense and suspenseful. I don’t think kids much younger than 12 should read the series, especially if they don’t know some of the stuff mentioned.
The only swearing is by the bad guys with the word h***. There is only one mention of drugs (and one spot you can infer it). The first one is when cops show up at Cooper, Gordy, Lunk, and Hiro’s school to find the mystery witness (it’s not bad. Someone asks if the cops were there to bust drugs). The second one is when Stein is chasing Hiro. She wonders if he is on something or possessed.
When they are living a lie under the Code of Silence, Cooper steals an English book to try and keep up the lie. He claims he is just borrowing it, and he knows it is wrong. Choosing to live this way is show to be wrong, and the lies come with disastrous consequences.
Because of Gordy’s kidnapping, Cooper struggles with guilt and grief. The author does a great job showing how that makes you do crazy, reckless things. As they are searching the area, trying to figure out who the kidnapper was and where he might have taken Gordy, Hiro gets the idea that a registered sex offender might have kidnapped him and looks up how many
In the third book, the boys tease Hiro by claiming a tunnel is full of demons because she doesn’t believe in ghosts. Cooper wonders briefly if demons can go underwater because he struggles with panic attacks and fear
For the most part the books are clean, and many of the things I noted are just mentions. They seem bigger when pulled from out of their setting. The books provide excellent discussion opportunities and teach great lessons without seeming too in-your-face. After the story is over, the author includes more information on one of the central themes of the novel. In Code of Silence, it’s about lying, in Back Before Dark, it’s about kidnapping, and in Below the Surface, it’s about fear. He wrote each section in a fascinating, easily understandable way, and it’s great advice.
The books cater more towards boys, but I did enjoy them. They were very well written, easy to get lost in and a series your kids (or you!) won’t want to put down.