Another teen dealing with consequences of dishonesty and cover-ups from Cappo (Cheating Lessons, 2011), though the stakes are higher in this murder mystery set in a small, blue-collar Michigan town.
We first meet Milo Shoemaker, an upstanding high school senior, the day of his father’s funeral. Milo’s dad was an accountant at Wolverine Motors, manufacturers of fire trucks in the town of Valeene, and the company prides itself on not having taken a government bailout like the big three automakers. The circumstances surrounding the death of Milo’s father are suspicious—was it an accident, suicide for insurance or, worse, murder? Clues pop up that lead Milo to finagle a job at the plant where he can snoop out the truth. Did his dad cook the books to pay off a gambling debt? Or is it something more sinister? Proving his dad’s innocence could take down the town’s biggest employer and tarnish the reputation of its president, a hero of sorts that Milo holds in high regard for hiring his father when he was down on his luck. Milo is a teen with character and morals; he helps out around the house and takes care of his younger twin siblings. Adding the virginal quality, although commendable, is a tad overdone and predictable in young adult fiction lately. Cappo’s occasional odd choice of adjectives can seem arbitrary and a bit befuddling, as in “the oily Pearce” when referring to the shady, suspect payroll supervisor, and the line “J’azzmin had stealthily replaced their headsets.” It’s when Milo’s best friend—the athletic, charming Zaffer, whose summer job in security and grounds keeping at Wolverine gives him access to off-limit areas of the building—and the boss’ attractive daughter, Ellie, join in on the sleuthing that the plot moves along at a brisk pace with plenty of action, romance and intrigue.
Milo’s unyielding determination to discover the truth and expose corporate fraud will likely make Cappo’s page-turner a hit with those sympathetic to the Occupy Wall Street movement.