Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief by Wendelin Van Draanen

I had a passion for mysteries when I was a kid in elementary school. I read all the Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Cherry Ames and Hardy Boy books I could get my hands on. I wish Sammy Keyes had been there. 

I am off sick and couldn't imagine trying to read anything deep and profound. Thankfully this was available as an ebook from the public library. I have wanted to read something from the series for ages, but there have always been other books that must be read first. Sometimes the stars align and a book has its time. I'm so glad it was Sammy Keyes' turn. 

There is so much to love about this book. I love Sammy. She is one spunky kid; part innocence, part tough as nails, and part Sherlock Holmes. 

I love her friendship with Marissa. While the two of them are far apart economically, they don't let that interfere with their getting along and supporting each other. In fact, they envy parts of each other's lives.

I love Sammy's relationship with her Grandmother. Her mother abandoned her a year ago to make her fortune in the movies. Since then Sammy lives illegally with her Grandmother in a seniors' only apartment building. Ever present is the danger of the nosy Mrs. Graybill reporting them. 

I love Wendelin Van Draanen's characters. I feel like I have just met new friends and want to get to know them better. Some are almost stereotypical, yet leave the reader aware that there is more to them than what we see on the surface. This is especially true with the mean girl at school, Heather Acosta. You know she deserves everything she gets, but you can't help but wonder what her background is. 

Sammy spends her time looking at the world through forbidden binoculars. One day she sees a burglary taking place in a hotel in the neighbourhood. When the police arrive, Sammy has to go and check out what is going on. She seems to be a whole lot smarter than they are so it is up to her to solve the crime. Sammy does it admirably. 

The fast paced plot is rife with trouble, suspects, red herrings, action, and subplots. I'm sure Sammy Keyes and her adventures will keep kids engaged and eager for the next one. 

This book won the 1999 Edgar Allan Poe Award for best children's mystery. Read it and you will know why.


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