© Jane Louise Curry, cover © James Hoston.
A sequel to “The Big Smith Snatch,” the Smith family and their father have arrived at Grandma Smith’s house in Pittsburgh, and begun to explore their new working-class neighborhood and make new friends, when once again their lives are turned upside down. A letter arrives for Grandma indicating her house has been sold (by someone who apparently forged her signature on the legal documents) and the whole family will soon be evicted!
Dad and Grandma appeal to the bank and the law, with little luck, so it’s up to the ever resourceful Smith kids to investigate. Led by Poppy and Cisco, the oldest, they start asking questions and soon find out that a number of other older homeowners in the area have fallen prey to the same scam. Doing more research, Cisco uncovers similar scams from the past that could all be connected. Meanwhile, Babba is on the trail of another mystery, a stray cat she wants the family to adopt. The cat’s trail leads Babba into the spooky old house of the neighborhood’s most ornery and hateful resident, Mrs. Tuttlebee, and before long she realizes she’s trapped there!
I liked this better than the first Smith book, though both are good. The situations and scams in “Hustle” seem more believable to me, while “Snatch” was a bit over the top. The mystery at the heart of the story is a good one, and Curry plays fair, giving clues along the way that add up at the end. And the finale is exciting and full of action. Recommended.