Three friends solve a mystery surrounding a derelict mansion on the Maryland shore. Twelve-year-old Will Hanson resents the two city kids, Sam MacDowell and his sister, Toes, whose parents have bought out the grocery store next-door to his family's diner in the small resort town of Paradise. But however determined Will is not to like the newcomers, he finds that he's growing away from his old gang; and when--by chance--he and the MacDowells meet at the deserted May Estate, the first tentative bonds of friendship are formed. The three are soon launched on a scheme to turn the place into a haunted house and charge admission. But unbeknowst to them, somebody else also has plans for the house--dangerous plans. In a blazing finale, Will and Sam must save themselves and expose an arsonist. Second-novelist Helldorfer again displays sensitivity to the moods and emotions of children. With a perceptive sense of character, she makes the people of Paradise entirely believable. A well-wrought, suspenseful tale with a satisfying, dramatic conclusion.