The lives and friendships of a group of teenage boys in a small town in upstate New York anchors this offering--more coming-of-age tale than the mystery it purports to be--by Hayes (No Effect, 1993, etc.). Gabe Riley and his friend Bo are classified Gifted and Talented by their high school, but they prefer filming their own amateur sci-fi epics (e.g., Rogue Nun) to doing homework. While Gabe and his younger brother, Ethan, live in a nice house and stuff themselves on yuppie chow, they also keep an eye on their alcoholic father, a passionate lawyer who falls off the wagon on a regular basis with charming abandon. His wife has left him, but Mr. Riley is no bitter drunk; he's an expressive, doting father, and a caring member of the community. When a neighbor, Mr. Lindstrom, suffers a stroke, Mr. Riley looks after his friend's affairs, while the boys clean his home. Clothes and food disappear and lights turn on in the empty Lindstrom house, but it's no apparition; the intruder is Lindstrom's estranged grandson. Hayes is at his best showing the boys together, teasing and tussling with each other, and in the heartwarming, affirming moments between Mr. Riley and his cherished sons. The mystery is tepid, but the warmth and humor of the characters deserve readers' rapt attention.