Chanti Evans is back in another episode of street-smart crime-solving in the Langdon Prep series.
This third entry keeps her efforts close to home in more ways than one. The story opens fast, with Chanti responding to a fire a few doors away. It doesn’t take much to alert her to the possibility that this episode is not what it seems. Despite her promises to her vice-cop mother, Lana, and the damage her investigations have done to her relationship with would-be love Marco, she gets deeply involved in her friend MJ’s troubles with her old gang. In between homework and friends, Chanti worries about arson and potential violence. As if this is not enough to keep a girl busy in the days before her 16th birthday, Chanti and her mother find their close relationship strained when Chanti’s long-absent father starts trying to contact them, resulting in more evasions by Lana about her parentage. Reid continues the snappy dialogue and clever storytelling of the previous volumes, and readers will detect real growth in Chanti as she works her way through her difficulties. There is a large cast to keep straight, and the crime itself is a bit complicated for a teen sleuth, but the secondary characters add nicely to the narrative, and there are times when Chanti’s insight is laugh-out-loud humorous.
A cliffhanger ending will have readers clamoring for more. (Mystery. 12 & up)