Case of the Firecrackers (Chinatown Series #3)by Laurence Yep
An ex-movie star turned publicist, Auntie Tiger Lil can't seem to stay away from the big screen'or from danger! When she takes her niece Lily to the set of TV's hottest show, tempers flare and fuses ignite as a loaded gun finds its way into the scene. Somebody is trying to cause trouble, and everyone is suspect. Auntie Tiger Lil and a new cast of characters are
An ex-movie star turned publicist, Auntie Tiger Lil can't seem to stay away from the big screen'or from danger! When she takes her niece Lily to the set of TV's hottest show, tempers flare and fuses ignite as a loaded gun finds its way into the scene. Somebody is trying to cause trouble, and everyone is suspect. Auntie Tiger Lil and a new cast of characters are once again in the center of action as they travel from Chinatown to the dangerous Tenderloin District of San Francisco in search of clues. They follow a trail of firecrackers, gangs, bad food, and gambling to dead ends. How will they ever find the real culprit?
01-02 Young Hoosier Book Award Masterlist (Gr 4-6)
Author Biography: Laurence Yep is the author of The Imp That Ate My Homework, about which Kirkus Reviews said, "Readers will not be able to put this light, funny fantasy down." He received Newbery Honors in 1975 for Dragonwings and in 1994 for Dragon's Gate. Mr. Yep lives in Pacific Grove, California.
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I'd had a lot of practice at stakeouts, so I tried to look inconspicuous. Lounging against the wall, I pretended to casually read a comic book. Every now and then I glanced over the top of it at the door, waiting for the perp . . . I mean, victim . . . no, target . . . no, subject.
At 8:03 a.m., the door opened. Ten seconds later, the subject emerged in her best clothes and high heels.
Auntie stopped dead in her tracks and stared. "You're in a dress. Who died?"
I tried not to blush. "There's no funeral. Can't I put on something nice when I feel like it?"
Auntie felt my forehead. "Ah, I can feel the hormones beginning to rage. Take two aspirin and go to sleep for ten years."
I hooked my arm around Auntie's, determined not to let go. "I thought we were partners."
"Remind me of that the next time a bill comes in," Auntie cracked. She'd been famous for that in her Tiger Lil movies. She pressed a fingertip against my nose. "You were listening to me yesterday on the other line, weren't you?"
I kept my death grip. "In our profession, we prefer to call it surveillance."
After helping Auntie with two cases, I thought I'd better do research, so I'd been watching a lot of cop shows.
Mostly Auntie was an actor, and a good one with a long string of credits in Hollywood. Recently, though, she hadn't been getting too many nibbles, so she'd shifted her base to up here in San Francisco-though she still took an acting job when it was offered to her.
In the meantime, she'd set up a public relations business; and then, because she kept meeting unemployed actors for whom she felt sorry, she had started finding them jobs, so she'd also become an agent.
Ontop of everything else, Auntie never saw a mess that she didn't have to tidy up, so she'd done some detecting as well. Auntie Tiger Lil had enough energy for a dozen people.
Auntie rolled her eyes. "Oh, for the good old days when you only wanted to watch cartoons." Then she looked at me. "Now all you can think of is Clark."Clark Tom was the teenage heartthrob of millions on the television show East Meets West. And his signature phrase, "Gotcha," had become a catchword across the country.
"That's not true, Auntie. I just don't want to disappoint my friends." I held up the bag of autograph books that my schoolmates had given me.At first I was afraid that Auntie was going to refuse. That would have left a long line of my friends mad at me.
To my relief, Auntie grinned. "I guess since I don't pay you, I owe you a few perks. Come on, kiddo."
As we passed the kitchen, Mom poked her head out of the doorway. "Don't you want some coffee, Auntie?"
"No time," Auntie said. "I've got an appointment."
Mom placed a hand over her heart in mock surprise. "Oh, really?" She hadn't gotten any of the family's acting talent. "I don't suppose . . ."
Auntie motioned to me with a sigh. "Give the autograph books to Lily."Mom passed me a bag as big as mine.
"Mom," I scolded, "you weren't supposed to tell anyone."
"Oh, autographs?" Dad said, popping up behind Mom. "Is it anybody famous?" He was an even worse ham than Mom.
Auntie cut to the chase. "Give the books to Lily."
Fortunately, Dad had only a couple, so I didn't have to rent a U-Haul.When we got outside, though, we found my big brother, Chris, waiting uncomfortably on the sidewalk. He didn't have a stack of autograph books. What he had was a lot worse: his latest girlfriend.
Instead of standing in his usual slouch, Chris was standing up straight. Instead of wearing his usual baggy clothes, he was dressed to kill. "Auntie, I want you to meet my classmate, Evie Li."
Evie was all fizzy, like a soda bottle that someone had shaken up. "I'm so pleased to meet you. Chris has told me all about you. I'm so thrilled."
"Really?" Auntie asked, glancing surprisedly at Chris. He dropped his eyes, shuffling his feet sheepishly.
My big brother had always been pretty awful, but he'd gotten to be a real pill ever since he started going to high school three years ago. I wasn't against all his causes. In fact, some of them were pretty good ones. It was just the way he went about promoting them. He had to get in your face and badger you.
Among other bits of badgering, Chris had made clear what he thought of Auntie's career. He thought she had sold out to the Hollywood producers. While he had never been rude to Auntie's face, he'd also never bothered to hide his contempt. So it was strange to have him bragging about her.
As Evie got more excited, she chewed her gum faster, so I caught a faint whiff of Juicy Fruit. "I haven't been able to see any of your movies," she confessed, "but I was hoping to meet you. I'd like to ask your advice about acting."
Auntie was still cautious. "Really?"
Evie seemed like the complete opposite of the serious girls whom Chris usually hung out with. I didn't see what they had in common at all. She must have hypnotized him.
I nudged Auntie. "You can talk later. We've got a business appointment."
"Oh," Evie said in a disappointed voice.
Chris blocked our way. "I was hoping we could come along with you to meet . . ." It took an effort to bite out the words. "Clark Tom." He'd also made it clear what he thought of Clark's show, East Meets West.
"I didn't tell him," I swore to Auntie. In fact, lately I had avoided Chris because he always wanted to lecture me on something. "It must have been Mom who blabbed."
Auntie pinched the bridge of her nose. "Make a note, Lily. 'Get own private line.'" She lowered her hand. "One that no one else can listen to," she said pointedly.
Evie pressed the tips of her index fingers together. "Chris said you wouldn't mind."
I could see the muscles working on my brother's face. He hated to beg to see someone he despised, but he also wanted to make Evie happy. "Please, Auntie."The Case of the Firecrackers. Copyright � by Laurence Yep. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
Laurence Yep is the acclaimed author of more than sixty books for young people and a winner of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. His illustrious list of novels includes the Newbery Honor Books Dragonwings and Dragon's Gate; The Earth Dragon Awakes: The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, a Texas Bluebonnet Award nominee; and The Dragon's Child: A Story of Angel Island, which he cowrote with his niece, Dr. Kathleen S. Yep, and was named a New York Public Library's "One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing" and a Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book.
Mr. Yep grew up in San Francisco, where he was born. He attended Marquette University, graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and received his PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He lives in Pacific Grove, California, with his wife, the writer Joanne Ryder.
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Once you think they've found the criminal, another suspect is revealed. Auntie never ceases to amaze me! I was on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. I never expected the REAL criminal!