Alfred A. Knopf, 2015
It was sort of bad timing to discover the Sammy Keyes mystery series in its final installment, but not too late to capture the flavor of this hard-boiled crime series for teens. A foreword to this novel is written in the voice of the author and explains that Sammy, the series heroine, is unable to narrate because she is in a coma after being thrown off a stairwell by an assailant.
In the voices of her family and friends, the reader learns about all of the mad-cap adventures that Sammy has had (and all of the criminals she's busted who might want to do her harm). While a sub-plot picks up on one of the mysteries left unsolved in earlier novels, the bulk of the story has the flavor of a TV season finale with flashbacks from previous programs.
Regular readers of the Sammy Keyes novels will probably best appreciate this level of reminiscence, and aren't likely to mind that any relevant clues for solving the actual mystery of who is responsible for hurting Sammy aren't presented until the last few pages of the book.
In a clever afterward, the author takes on her own persona again to bid farewell to Sammy, knowing that she'll be okay on her own, and Sammy, gazing down at her from her hospital window, waves back.
Wendelin Van Draanen was a classroom teacher for many years before becoming a full-time writer. The Sammy Keyes mystery series is loved by readers and critics alike. Wendelin lives with her husband and two sons in California. Her hobbies include the "three R's": reading, running, and rock 'n' roll.