When Ms. Stillford does not show up on the first day of school, 13-year-old Quinnie Boyd is convinced her beloved tutor has been kidnapped.
Quinnie, clever and endowed with a vivid imagination, is initially unable to convince her mother, the sheriff of the small coastal village of Maiden Rock, Maine (as well as its postmistress and real estate agent; it's that small a town), to mount a search. Missing her best friend, Zoe, who is in Scotland for the year, but aided by her maybe-crush, Ben, and by the new girl, skinny-jeans–clad Mariella from New York City, Quinnie mucks through the marsh, sneaks into houses, spies on visiting tattooed rockers, and jumps to conclusions—with the best intentions but often humorous results. Much of the book's humor derives from the quirky, colorful Maiden Rockers, particularly the two elderly nuns who drive too fast, can't figure out recycling, live in the convent with hordes of cats, and have a puzzling need for bat guano. Quinnie is a memorable protagonist with an engaging voice, confused about her feelings for Ben and her anger at the mother she loves even as she barrels full tilt and against her mother's instructions into her amateur sleuthing.
Surrisi's debut novel is a delightful cozy mystery, snugly mixing intrigue and humor, with an unpredictable and satisfying resolution. (Mystery. 10-14)