When someone kidnaps her baby brother, the police accuse 15-year-old Shelby of his murder, and the national media run with it.
Shelby gets hate email and death threats, and the press besieges the family, but nothing can stop Shelby from slipping out the unwatched back way to do her own investigation at the park where the kidnapping occurred. There, she gets into more trouble with the police but meets Matt, who may or may not become a romantic interest. Offering to help, Matt takes her out to look for the white van Shelby insists was involved in the crime. (Why is it always a white van?) Events finally take some pressure off Shelby, but she’s determined to solve the crime. She thinks ahead of the police at every step, possibly at her own peril. Winn’s writing moves along nicely, although she relies on more than one credulity-straining incident to solve major problems. Her initial portrayal of the police detectives comes across as outrageous with their over-the-top persecution of Shelby, but she later redeems them with words if not with their actions. Her characterizations of Shelby’s parents are equally one-dimensional, initially portraying them as selfish and uncaring and then instantly switching their portrayals to sympathetic after the kidnapping.
Still, if the plot and characterizations don’t make much sense, the story has enough suspense to satisfy undemanding mystery fans. (Mystery. 12-18)