Thirteen-year-old Sammy has a habit of uncovering mysteries and finding trouble.
In her latest adventure, the dauntless sleuth seeks to decipher the secrets in her own life. Sammy is accustomed to subterfuge, living—covertly—in elderly housing with her grandmother while her mother pursues an acting career. Another enigma is Sammy’s father, whose identity her mother refuses to reveal. Sammy also continues her relationship with boyfriend Casey, despite his mother’s objections. When Sammy learns her mother is traveling to Las Vegas, possibly to marry Casey’s dad, she decides to confront her mother and demand the truth about her father. The result is an impromptu, clandestine trip to Las Vegas. Sammy demonstrates an abundance of ingenuity in her scheming, which includes enlisting an entourage of Elvis impersonators to track down her elusive mother. Yet Van Draanen subtly reveals Sammy’s vulnerability beneath her bravado. Through an unlikely collaboration with Casey’s sister—and Sammy’s longtime nemesis—Heather, Sammy not only discovers insights into Heather’s behavior, but gains a greater understanding of her own situation.
Sammy’s hijinks and a surprisingly poignant ending make this a captivating addition to the series. (Mystery. 10-14)