A budding journalist, almost 18, takes an internship at a small-town newspaper and discovers ugly doings afoot at the big-box store recently opened nearby.
Hardly has Sherri stepped off the bus than her reporter’s antennae go up: Not only does everyone who works at the huge Shopwells outside town behave like a smiling zombie, but nearly all the smaller local businesses are closed and papered over with Shopwells fliers. Moreover, her new boss stonewalls her inquiries, and when she visits the store, she finds herself buying a cartload of junky goods she normally wouldn’t have touched. What is going on? Amid a whirl of stolen evidence, veiled threats and an attempted kidnapping, Sherri investigates a nefarious scheme worthy of conspiracy theories: “I mean,” says one employee, “how else do you get people to work minimum wage with no overtime, no health benefits, stocking shelves, and like it?” In the meantime, she finds hot-and-heavy romance with a local lad, threatening her relationship with her Toronto boyfriend.
The romantic subplot is really shoehorned in, but it lightens the overall tone of this briskly paced mystery. (Light horror. 13-16)