One biology test short of nailing her diploma, reporter Hayley Makk skips high school graduation to do an overnight shift at the Halifax Independent, where what she overhears while monitoring the police scanner sends her on a dangerous adventure chasing a story.
Two classmates have stumbled on a blood-soaked, empty cabin outside town, but before Hayley can take advantage of this scoop, her father, aka her editor and boss, insists she accept her biology teacher’s offer: Hayley can graduate if she joins her expedition to find and tag a rare sea turtle. Capt. Gil, whose fishing boat Ms. Cameron has chartered, and Ernest, an animal rights activist and turtle lover, round out the party. More than confirming Hayley’s low expectations, Ernest soon interferes with the mission, rescuing the turtle from what he believes is harm. The project comes to an abrupt end when another group shows up to capture the turtle and Ernest—while attempting to free it—is shot and wounded. Back in Halifax, Hayley pursues the cabin story, not coincidentally furthering her acquaintance with the attractive investigating officer, a Mountie. What she learns persuades her of a connection between the blood-spattered cabin and the homicidal turtle hunters. Hayley’s back story is awkwardly incorporated, and the romance subplot is decidedly clichéd. However, once launched, the story entertains.
Overcoming weaknesses, this debut makes effective use of its energetic sleuth, fast-paced plot, and convincing, atmospheric Nova Scotia setting to build suspense and wind to a satisfying conclusion. (author’s note) (Mystery. 12-18)