Sammy Keyes and the Kiss Goodbye

240p. (Sammy Keyes). Knopf. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780375870552; lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9780375970559; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780307974105. LC 2013039890.
Gr 5–8—Sammy Keyes has faced her share of criminals—murderers, thieves, a meth dealer, a gang leader, and so many more—but it's here, in the final book of the series, that she may have met her match. That's right: this one opens with an author's note explaining that something happened to Sammy. Something bad. Kiss Goodbye isn't told from Sammy's perspective, unlike the rest of the series, but Van Draanen's narrative keeps pages turning. Readers soon learn that the middle-schooler is in a coma after being thrown three stories from the fire escape of the seniors-only building that, for the entire series, she illegally lived in with her Grams. Who would have it out for the skateboard-riding sleuth? She's bested many a foe, any one of whom might want revenge, and it's up to the Santa Martina community, from the formerly cantankerous Officer Borsch to her loyal friends old and new, to solve this one. Longtime fans will especially appreciate the references to past books and characters reflecting on their own lives and Sammy's impact. Van Draanen presents a fitting tribute to Sammy, who is as much a heroine for always staying true to herself and striving to do the right thing as she is for any crimes she solved. Series regulars will want to lace up their high-tops and jump right in.—Amanda Mastrull, Library Journal
Fearless and feisty thirteen-year-old sleuth Sammy Keyes lies comatose in a hospital bed for most of this book, the last of an eighteen-volume mystery series about a girl whose curiosity and strong powers of observation keep pulling her into the crime-solving business. Many of the characters from the previous books reappear to visit Sammy in the hospital, even her former enemy Heather Acosta. Sergeant Gil Borsch, whose sense of propriety Sammy has frequently violated, is determined to protect her and figure out who pushed her from a third-floor fire escape. Van Draanen gives the many colorful characters, both child and adult, the chance to reflect on how Sammy changed their lives, and even inserts herself into the story at the beginning and the end as the omniscient narrator ("I'm sorry. I know you were expecting Sammy…"). This gives the book a different tone from earlier volumes, which were all narrated by Sammy herself, but the writing remains snappy ("Even in a coma, the girl was trouble"). The book isn't a good starting point for those new to the series, but longtime fans will love the chance to give Sammy a satisfying send-off. susan dove lempke

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