Motherless Madigan, 12, lives with her grandmother in a rooming house in rural Maryland and fantasizes about the father she has never met. When handsome Clint moves in as a temporary boarder, revealing little about himself except that he has been in the electronics business and needs relaxation, he charms Grandmother with quotes from Wordsworth, and Madigan with the idea that he may be her father; and when a rash of clever burglaries coincides with his arrival, the reader will guess long before Madigan and her friend Angie do that Clint is responsible--and that he's not Madigan's father, but the father of Angle's outcast sister Alice's baby. In her distress at these revelations, Madigan reveals her knowledge and is kidnapped by Clint and Alice, barely escaping with her life but realizing that even bad people may have admirable and lovable qualities. Hahn defines her characters with some depth and, though the "mystery" is hardly puzzling, Madigan's capture and escape are plausible as well as tautly full of suspense. The mundane explanation given by Madigan's grandmother concerning her real father makes for a solidly realistic conclusion.