Jamie's boring summer--he's been roped into doing odd jobs for batty old Mrs. McCarthy instead of going hiking as he'd planned--turns interesting when he meets Shelby, who involves him in searching for the author of the Jim McGwynn secret-agent novels, said to live in their town. As Jamie becomes more aware of his father's alcoholism, McGwynn becomes his role model, and the search for the author becomes increasingly urgent. Dad's problem tends to take over the plot here, leaving such other elements as the budding romance between Jamie and Shelby to fizzle; Dad's car-accident-induced coma, recovery, and agreement to seek treatment are predictable, as is the discovery that the mystery author is actually Mrs. McCarthy, not a dashing ex-spy. Yet Wood's characterizations--especially of overcompensating, co-dependent Mom--are adept; and Jamie develops well as he learns about trust, courage, friendship, and apology by emulating the fictional McGwynn--and from his new fiends. An honest if flawed story in first-person journal form.