Sixteen-year-old Rose Ann, on a Caribbean cruise with her grandmother, becomes involved in the political intrigue surrounding the defection of Enrique, a teenaged Cuban baseball player. His uncle, a well-known major-leaguer who had previously defected from Cuba, has smuggled him on board. Rose discovers the plan and enlists the help of other teenagers to keep Enrique safely under wraps so that he can set foot on American soil. If he’s captured at sea, he must be returned to Cuba. This is no lighthearted romp, for Enrique’s entire future (and possibly his very life) is at stake. Cuban officials attempt to frame him for a murder, so they might arrest him and remove him from the ship. Other murders are committed and must be solved. Sprinkle in parent problems, romance, and a little teen angst and you have a fast-paced, engaging mystery. It is by no means a perfect example of the genre: some of the clues are a little obvious and several of the characters are one-dimensional. Story elements are introduced and then dropped with a thud, violating even the most basic concept of the red herring. However, Rose is a delightful character. She is observant, intelligent, compassionate, and downright plucky. Enrique’s situation is compelling and timely.
Nixon (Will’s Story, not reviewed, etc.) has built a solid reputation as a master of mysteries for young teenagers, and in spite of its flaws, this one is sure to please her fans. (Fiction. 12-14)