Sammy Keyes has helped to put countless bad guys away during her short sleuthing career. Now, one of those bad guys wants revenge in this 18th and final story.
When 14-year-old Sammy sneaks into the Senior Highrise in an attempt to catch the long-elusive Nightie-Napper, someone pushes her from the third-floor fire escape. Fortunately, she lands in the bushes; unfortunately, she’s unconscious and unable to tell what happened. The author inserts herself as narrator in Sammy’s stead, directly addressing readers through a mobile point of view that flows easily from character to character, with bits of back story woven seamlessly throughout. Snappy dialogue, fast-paced narration and glimpses inside the minds of major secondary characters like best friend Marissa McKenze, former nemesis Heather Acosta, and Sammy’s melodramatic and self-absorbed mother keep readers glued to the action as friends, family and a mob of high-top–wearing teens band together to solve the biggest mystery of all: Who tried to kill Sammy Keyes? It’s bad enough that this is Sammy’s last outing; Van Draanen’s departure from her proven, winning formula backfires. Without Sammy’s endearingly wisecracking personality leading the way, the series’ end falls flat.
Fans may be better served by stopping with the penultimate installment, Sammy Keyes and the Killer Cruise (2013). (Mystery. 10-14)