Sammy Keyes and the Power of Justice Jack
Sammy Keyes’ town of Santa Martina is so chock full of odd folks that she thinks nothing could surprise her. Then she meets Justice Jack, who is a colorful character who believes himself to be a bona fide superhero, complete with stretch bodysuit (gold and red), red knee and arm pads, and a golden chest plate with a black lightning bolt and a red J. To complete his get-up, Justice Jack wears a utility belt, gold gloves, a fancy helmet and a black mask. Justice Jack rides around in a dirt bike called "High Roller" with a sidecar, flying a red pennant imprinted with a big gold J.
"It would be impossible not to root for this young female detective as she tackles her latest intriguing mystery, which wraps up in a satisfying yet not overly tidy manner, leaving fans eagerly anticipating her next adventure."
When Sammy first glimpses Jack, she and her friends are celebrating the Christmas arrival of Sinterklaas with their Dutch friend, Dot DeVries, which involves cookies falling through the ceiling and other exotic festivities. They hear someone knocking on the front door. When Dot's little sisters rush to the door, believing Sinterklaas has left gifts on the front porch for them, instead they find Justice Jack, who is carrying a peacock that he hopes to return to its rightful owner. Mr. DeVries points him in the direction of neighbors, but when Dot's dog needs to go outside, Sammy and her friends can't resist checking out the action. What they find is quite the scene: Justice Jack surrounded by men and Sammy's old friend, police officer Borsch.
Officer Borsch addresses Sammy by name, which absolutely stuns Justice Jack. It seems that her reputation as a crime fighter has preceded her. Justice Jack can't get over the fact that he is standing before the person who broke up a dogfighting ring, uncovered counterfeiters, brought a blackmailer to the attention of the law…and all the other amazing detective feats she has accomplished. Sammy is horribly embarrassed to hear Jack listing her deeds, especially when Jack enthuses that Sammy has been a source of great inspiration to him.
She is relieved when the superhero gets a call and takes off on his "High Roller" dirt bike to check out the burglary of City Hall, where the town's softball statue has vanished. However, her relief is short-lived. Justice Jack soon becomes a fixture in Sammy's life, which is complicated by the disappearance of her blackmailer neighbor Mrs. Wedgewood, a breakup of those near and dear to her, Casey's dreadful sister and mother's attempts to keep Casey and Sammy apart, and much more. Of course, Sammy's basic day-to-day life is inherently complex. As always, she must sneak into her grandmother's seniors-only apartment building and hide if anyone knocks on Grams' door. She can't be caught living there, which means lots of trips up and down the fire escape and too much time hiding in Grams' closet. So how much more difficulty can one simple superhero add to Sammy's life? (Oh, you know the answer to that question: Lots!)
Author Wendelin Van Draanen weaves together several disparate sub-plots to give us yet another enjoyable entry in the Sammy Keyes series. As always, this latest story is peopled with three-dimensional characters, including sassy, savvy Sammy (who encounters a few light bulb moments illuminating her own inner self --- adding even more poignant layers to her personality). It would be impossible not to root for this young female detective as she tackles her latest intriguing mystery, which wraps up in a satisfying yet not overly tidy manner, leaving fans eagerly anticipating her next adventure.
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on August 25, 2012