While living a surreptitious life sneaking in and out of Gram's adults-only apartment complex, Sammy observes the unusual in the usual world. Halloween finds her and her friends mustering nerve to wend their way through dense shrubbery to the front door of scary Bush House to trick-or-treat when they are nearly knocked down by a "skeleton man" scurrying away with his loot in a pillow case. Sammy peers into the house to discover it's on fire, rescues its owner, and becomes embroiled in his family history. Her quick switches between adult intuitiveness and childish pranks are in keeping with a personality that neither thinks twice about rushing into a burning house nor about exposing the misdemeanors of a classmate via the school's public-address system. Only Sammy and a few other characters are developed to any extent. The nosy neighbor, the weak grandmother, and the cantankerous cops are examples of stereotyped adults. Sammy's classmates run the gamut of sweet and naive friends to snide and snotty enemies. However, readers will enjoy the mystery, hijinks, plotting, and adult comeuppance. Occasional black-and-white drawings illustrate the book. A fun read, particularly for fans of the previous book about this young sleuth.
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by Wendelin Van Draanen
"Sammy doesn't look for trouble, but it usually finds her. In this case, it's on Halloween, when she gets run over by a skeleton with a bag of stolen goodies, who sets a fire in a spooky house. And that's just the beginning. With just the right early-adolescent exaggerated voice, Tara Sands builds suspense as Sammy pries deeper and deeper into facts that just don't add up. Sands moves the story along well, and her Sammy is right-on, as are her friends, Marissa and Dot. But she doesn't sound nearly as convincing with her adult voices, especially Grams, who sounds like she's 30, rather than 55-plus. Overall, a good mystery, in a great series. W.L.S. (c) AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine"
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