For those of you who may not be familiar (gasp!), Sammy Keyes is a junior high school age sleuth that could kick Nancy Drew's butt (although I enjoy Nancy too, of course). Sammy's mom dumped her with her grandmother (grams) and whisked off to seek her stardom in Hollywood. Meanwhile Sammy is forced to sneak out of her Grams' senior high rise, where kids are only allowed to visit, and she sleeps on the couch and hides in the closet when unexpected visitors stop by. It doesn't sound like the life of luxury, yet Sammy never seems down about it. Unlike Nancy, Sammy has been known to get her hands dirty as she struggles to keep her quick fists and tongue in cheque.
In Cold Hard Cash, Sammy runs into an elderly man on the fire escape and she's sneaking into Grams and causes him to have a heart attack. He shocks wads of money into Sammy's hands and he last words are a plea to her to get rid of it. For the first time in Sammy's life, her curiosity isn't peaked. She doesn't want to know anything about the money, she wants to keep it, but she can't get rid of the bad feelings surrounding the money and ultimate can't resist solving the mystery.
Some of the Sammy Keyes books seem like they could be after school specials when you read the summaries about issues like drugs, the environment, homelessness etc., but the books never come off that way. Sammy is funny, and although her mom isn't much of a mom and her dad is out of the picture, she's surrounded by a community of people that care about her. She's anything but perfect, but I promise, you'll learn to love her.