Someone is systematically looting the town of Sticksville of its historical records in this third caper featuring punk teen detective October Schwartz and her five dead partners.
Break-ins at the museum and library are not only mysterious, but annoying, as they derail October’s efforts to dig into the late-18th-century history of a local family, a project that will both fulfil a school assignment and uncover how one of her ghostly young cohorts, Cyril Cooper, came to die. Moreover, October’s being stretched pretty thin. By day, she reluctantly tutors sharp-tongued frenemy Ashlie Salmons (aptly characterized as “Magneto to October Schwartz’s Professor X”) in math. By night, she sneaks out for investigations—which frequently involve clandestine entries, exploits such as digging up a corpse, and brushes with both police and violent death at the hands, or rather cutlass, of a glowing intruder in classic pirate garb—there’s hardly time to catch one’s breath, much less sleep. The intrusive narrator laces the episode with references to bands and other pop-culture icons that are collected, for less with-it readers, in a massive annotated appendix, and the book is decorated with occasional dark-lined vignettes. Alternating chapters switch typefaces and narrative form as the tale sweeps its terrified but stubborn protagonist through a series of narrowly averted threats to life and reputation alike on the way to a shocking denouement that further thickens an ongoing plotline.
Enjoyably campy horror set in a small town with, plainly, dark secrets aplenty yet to discover. (Mystery/fantasy. 12-15)