With the help of a dead magician, a quick-witted young orphan foils a dastardly plot--in this breathless new adventure from the author of The Whipping Boy (1986, Newbery Award). When Touch pays a car on his great-uncle and sole surviving relative, Judge Henry Wigglesforth, he finds himself under pressure to sign over a previously unknown inheritance from his roving father. Wigglesforth is also leaning on pretty Miss Sally Hoskins to sell her Red Raven Inn for a pittance--rumor has it that a gold-toothed guest was murdered there, and business has fallen off. Meanwhile, Wigglesforth's sinister confederate Otis Cratt (why does he keep his face muffled?) is lurking about, intent on a certain bag of Pacific Island pearls. Touch is never one to let injustice go unchallenged; enlisting the aid of the ghost of The Great Chaffalo, a local magician, he tricks Cratt, stymies Wigglesforth, and saves the pearls as well as the Red Raven. Once again, Fleischman's storytelling is grandly melodramatic; a clear line separates good from evil, scenes are set with brisk economy, and characters speak their lines with grace and emphasis. Sis' dark, posed, slightly distorted figures add to these theatrics an undercurrent of mystery and a "Touch" of wit. Outstanding.