Another smooth, tightly-plotted mix of psychological unknotting and scare-surmounting from the author of The Minden Curse and umpteen others. There are animals on the premises again too: the assorted dogs and cats belonging to the assorted tenants of 1230 Hillsdale Street that undersize, nearly-twelve Mike has, to his gratitude, been hired to walk or feed or, when their owners are all variously and simultaneously absent, to sit with. The job gives Mike some leverage with 14-year-old brother Barney, the one member of his largish, all-pitch-in family who rides him. It also hooks him up with new, ""real cute"" Melody (in Barney's approving assessment), who moves in next door to 1230 and has a way with cats. But chiefly it pitches him into the ""mystery"" of the disappearing hall lights, the suspicious fire, and finally the arson attempt on the old, unprofitable rental property--by owner Mr. Hale, which any reader will guess from his first, carefully planted gripes. Still and all, reasonably snappy and pretty informative on the fire department/arson scene.