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Children's LiteratureSamantha Sanders grew up haunted by a dead body she discovered when she was nine. Now sixteen, she finds herself longing for big city life rather than the rural Powhatan swamp region where hunting is a way of life. Unfortunately, a ban has been enforced for the past five years inhibiting the killing of bears and enraging the local hunters. Now that the end of the ban is near, Chip Clewt, otherwise known as the Weirdo because of a disfiguring accident many years before, has made it his mission to keep the bears safe. The mystery picks up when Chip's partner Tom goes missing and Chip suspects foul play. Sam and Chip become unlikely friends and she seems to think there is a connection between the murder seven years ago, Tom, and the bear ban. She becomes determined to find out how these are related. This means defying her father and her roots. Though this book is considered a part of the mystery genre, it is slow to unfold and lacks the element of suspense. The subplot of the developing romance between Chip and Sam becomes more engaging than the actual murder mystery. Taylor leaves too many loose ends that do not propel the story in any direction. He is not able to captivate the reader as a true mystery writer should. 1991, Harcourt, Ages 13 up.