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Smuggler's Island
HarperCollins, 1994
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Smuggler's Island

“You're crazy, Shadrach Faherty,” Davey called. “Crazy! You're going to get yourself killed!”

Shadrach is enraged. Bootleggers have taken over his island home, using it as a base from which to run their illegal operations. The community cooperates because its silence has been bought, and times are hard. But Shadrach can't be bought. Instead, he vows to gather all the information he can to bust the criminals. He succeeds, but then chooses the wrong man to tell.

Living on a poor island in 1932, a young boy determines, despite his family's bitter opposition, to identify and somehow bring to justice the liquor smugglers who have been terrorizing the island.

Behind the Book

Avi writes: It is common for people to tell writers that they have a great story which the writer should write. One always listens politely, and with interest, but it’s rare for the writer to take up the idea and create a book. Better to work from within.

Smuggler’s Island is one of those rare cases of a received story. Someone I knew—not all that well, actually—simply walked up to me, and said, “I have a great story to tell you, that you should use.” He then proceeded to tell me a tale about how when he was a boy, visiting his grandma who lived on an island off the New Jersey coast, “there were these smugglers who …”

He was right. It was the foundation for a good story, and so I took it, reshaped it, imagined it, wrote it.

It was originally called Shadrach’s Crossing, but in later editions, the title was changed to Smuggler’s Island.

Awards and Honors

Mystery Writers of America, special award, 1983


“The plot’s twists and surprises maintain suspense to the very end.” (The Horn Book)

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