An intrepid middle school reporter gambles her career on cracking a bombing case.
Samantha Sanderson, her best friend and Sam’s cop father go out to the movies at a theater that’s emptier than usual due to controversy over its being rented out by churches for a private screening of a religious movie, scheduled for the next day. There, they discover a bomb that’s set to go off during the religious movie. Since Sam was on scene—and since her dad is the lead detective on the case—Sam earns the bomb-story assignment for the school paper’s new blog, under a condition: constant, fresh articles. Her ambition leads her to write a series of witch-hunt pieces, each strongly insinuating the guilt of a suspect du jour: an outspoken atheist, the theater owner and a spokeswoman for an atheist group who has a history of mental illness. Self-righteous Sam ignores the effects her articles have on her suspects and her father’s investigation; aside from occasional, fleeting moments of remorse, she faces very few consequences for her actions and sees too little character growth. Eventually, her endless snooping pays off, and she helps crack the case, which is all too obvious—compared to the scanty evidence implicating the red herrings, the in-broad-daylight clues pointing toward the real culprit make the police look positively incompetent. Publishing simultaneously is Samantha Sanderson on the Scene.
Formulaic and forgettable. (discussion questions) (Mystery. 9-12)