Bancroft, Oct 2008, $19.95
Bianca Balducci looks forward to her junior year at St. John's Parochial School in Baltimore; and is happy for her mother who tells her and her brother and sister that she is marrying police officer Steve Paluchek. Bianca has no personal memories of her father who died seventeen years ago; but she is very fond of Steve, who has always been there for her and her family. Bianca’s sister Connie who is a private investigator believes her late father was a saint and is overtly displeased that their mom is marrying Steve.
Connie holds Steve culpable for the death of her father, who was a police officer too. They were partners, but he failed to be there when he was needed; in fact no one at least in the Balducci family knows where Steve was that night. Connie investigates the cold case and learns Internal Affairs was conducting an inquiry into Steve. He now lives in an affluent lifestyle a cop could not afford. Bianca trying to keep her obsessed sibling from doing something dangerously stupid assists her sister as they look into Steve’s ties to an illegal immigration smuggling ring; the same group their dad was probing when he was killed.
Young adults will be fascinated by brave Bianca who packs more activities in a week that most teens need a year to complete (boomers need a decade). However, her prime effort is to help her normally wiser older sister from doing something insane and potentially deadly. Bianca struggles to understand Connie’s motives as Steve has always been nice to her and she does not really know her dad except from what her siblings and mom told her. In between sleuthing and saving her sister, Bianca worries about her SAT scores, the junior prom, and first love. In her latest Bianca case (see UNCOVERING SADIE'S SECRETS), Libby Sternberg provides a very personal mystery for her teen sleuth to investigate.