When police officers show up at Ben Silver’s house, he is initially excited. He has always wanted to be a detective, and his father’s nickname for him is even Cop. But when the police reveal they are searching for his parents, Ben’s excitement turns into fear.
Ben’s parents return home soon after the police depart, telling Ben and his 7-year-old sister, Olive, that they are going on a vacation. But vacations do not usually involve haircuts, high-speed police chases, and lying low in an abandoned cabin deep in the woods. Using his investigative skills, Ben searches his father’s gym bag and finds a huge stash of money. Further clues yield the source of the cash and his parents’ plans to flee the country. Ben knows it may be up to him to keep his sister safe from his increasingly erratic father. But can an overweight kid who prefers video games to being outside survive in the woods? The tension between Ben and his father is perfectly pitched, and Ben’s dread of his wrath is painful to read. But Ben’s internal struggle between what he believes are his better and worse selves is forced, robbing the second half of tension.
Believable but too bifurcated to fully satisfy. (Thriller. 8-12)