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Book Review

Pawn’s Play by Phil Lollar has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the second book in the “Blackgaard Chronicles” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

The sinister Dr. Regis Blackgaard and his henchman, City Councilman Philip Glossman, have plans for the town of Odyssey. Unfortunately for them, John Avery Whittaker (Whit) and his friends want the city to remain a place of peace and wonder, especially for kids.

In book one of “The Blackgaard Chronicles,” Whit’s employees, Eugene Meltsner and Connie Kendall, accidentally open Whit’s top-secret computer program called Applesauce. They don’t really understand what harm they’ve done, but Whit expresses deep sorrow and disappointment. He fires them both on the spot.

Book two begins with Blackgaard and Glossman offering small-time criminal, Richard Maxwell, a chance to make some money. Maxwell works at a nursing home, where he often steals items from the elderly. He also attends the local college where he writes other people’s term papers for money.

Maxwell has some computer skills that Blackgaard wants to utilize to hack into Whit’s computer. Maxwell says he can help Blackgaard, but only if he can get access to the computer lab at school. He applies for a job there, but his poor attendance record in class causes the director to give the job to Eugene instead.

Maxwell is frustrated, but decides he may still be able to gain lab access. When he learns about a gifted 11-year-old foster child who is assigned to work in the lab, he decides to mentor him. The boy’s name is Nicholas.

Glossman has managed to purchase all but one shop in a strip mall Blackgaard wants to own. The lone holdout is Mansfield Computers, a store that does a booming business. Both Glossman and Maxwell are determined to help Blackgaard shut down Mansfield Computers, even though neither knows Blackgaard’s plans. Readers learn that Blackgaard has acquired an ancient fragment of paper which his mentor had traveled the world to find. The words on the paper include the name “John Avery Whittaker.”

Eugene begins his work at the college alongside Nicholas. When Maxwell visits, and Nicholas introduces him as his counselor, Eugene feels something isn’t right. Eugene discovers that some students’ grades have been changed in the system. Nicholas admits he did it under orders from Maxwell. Several students paid Maxwell to change their failing grades. He said if Nicholas didn’t help him, he’d make sure the boy was sent back to the group foster home.

Maxwell enters and admits to what he’s done. He reminds Eugene that reporting this will mean Nicholas has no chance of a bright future. When the school administrators discover a grade-changing scheme is in place, they accuse Eugene. Not wanting to get Nicholas in trouble, Eugene prepares to testify before the board and take responsibility.

Whit is one of the board members. He asks the others to leave the room so he can talk to Eugene privately. As he’s trying to get Eugene to explain, Nicholas enters and tells everything. The board calls in Maxwell and expels him. Cocky as always, Maxwell says he doesn’t need school. He has another job. The board allows Nicholas to stay on campus, and Whit offers to reinstate Eugene at Whit’s End.

Blackgaard is angry to learn that Maxwell has been expelled. Then Maxwell tells him he used Nicholas’s clearance to get the information he needed about Applesauce before he left. Glossman and Maxwell continue to vie for Blackgaard’s attention as each man plots a way to secure Mansfield Computers.

Meanwhile, Connie is serving as a counselor at Camp What-A-Nut. She writes home to her mom about her experiences. Although she’s enjoying herself, she still feels sad about being fired from Whit’s End. She wonders why Whit won’t forgive her. She ends up having to send a normally obedient girl home for some bad choices, and she feels terrible about it. She writes that now she understands a little more about what Whit probably felt when he fired her.

Christian Beliefs

Connie notes that God forgives people, so she wonders why Whit won’t forgive her. As a camp counselor, she bases her judgements and words of encouragement on the Bible. When she has to discipline a camper she likes, she realizes this must be how God feels when He disciplines His children.

Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Blackgaard intimidates his employees as he uses illegal and underhanded methods to achieve his goals. Maxwell steals from elderly people that he’s supposed to be helping and threatens a young boy into changing grades for him. Whit knows and trusts Eugene enough to recognize that Eugene is behaving strangely. He works to discover the root of Eugene’s problem, and he gives Eugene a second chance.





Discussion Topics

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Additional Comments/Notes

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

10 and up


Phil Lollar






Record Label



A Focus on the Family book in association with Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.


On Video

Year Published





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