Murder, mystery, abandonment, abuse, and kidnapping are a lot to pack into any book, let alone one for young people. But Turnage manages not only to do so but also to handle them with humor and grace. The infant Mo (short for Moses) turned up in the town of Tupelo Landing, N.C., drifting on a board in the river during a hurricane. An amnesiac, the Colonel, who crashed into a tree in Tupelo as the storm raged, discovered her. The two live there quietly for over eleven years, with the Colonel’s lady friend, running the Café, until an unpopular resident is found murdered and the law shows up to investigate. The Colonel takes an instant dislike to Detective Starr and his sidekick and disappears overnight. A few days later, so does his lady friend, Miss Lana. Are they somehow involved in the murder, which seems to also be connected to a long ago bank robbery/murder in nearby Winston-Salem? Mo has been trying to solve the mystery of her mother for years and now she has this mystery to sort out as well. She has the help of her good friend Dale and the emotional many of the quirky, but mostly lovable, characters populating this small town. Turnage’s writing is populated with many memorable little phrases, such as “hotter than the devil’s curling iron,” which add authenticity as well as wit to the tale. The humor, though, is laced with some pretty heart wrenching moments, between Mo’s revealing journal entries written to her “Upstream Mother,” Dale’s attempts to ignore his abusive, alcoholic father, the scary drunken attack by his father on his mother, Mo, and himself, and a frightening scene as the murderer is captured. Tension builds to an exciting climax before the tale winds down. This multi-layered story is extremely well plotted, filled with twists and turns, and people with characters whose words and actions stay with the reader.