Continuing the story of the Tillermans of Crisfield, Md. (Dicey's Song--Newbery Medal, 1983--plus four other books, more or less related), Voigt chronicles the spring Dicey's two brothers seek news of their father. James, 15, a thinker who does so well in school that he dismisses himself as a dork, is the one who wants to know; Sammy, a doer, is willing to help, although as a seventh grader with no self-image problems he doesn't see the point. They know nothing of their father except that he never married their mother, leaving her to cope alone with four children. Frank Verriker's trail leads them to his third-grade teacher, who adored him in spite of his mischief; a high-school principal who expelled him; a seedy Baltimore dockside bar where the name Verriker evokes such anger that they escape the ensuing brawl only after both are injured. Meanwhile, James has listened to Sammy's advice to just be himself, and Sammy has become the one more deeply involved in the quest for a father--or his own identity. In the end, each realizes that "people never exactly duplicate[d] one another." Though they recognize and fear in themselves the qualities of their charming, conscienceless con-man father, they are not doomed to repeat them as faults, and may even share them as virtues. Close friends of the Tillermans--and there are many--will be engrossed even in the slow-moving and introspective parts of this long story. At the climax, there's enough action to reward the patient. And at the conclusion, it's clear that though James' and Sammy's search for a father to follow was always bound to fail, each has in the other a close friend and advisor with complementary talents. It's also clear that Voigt has, with her usual careful crafting, built toward this moment with every line of a complex novel.