Robert “Cali” Callahan is a 17-year-old runaway from Nebraska who’s made Venice Beach his home for the past three years. He has it better than most street kids. He has a tree house to sleep in, friends on the boardwalk, and plenty of time for skateboarding, surfing and basketball. But when he begins cashing in on his natural talent for finding people, his life suddenly gets more complicated.
Cali helps locate a recent runaway and later, a local homeless man, and sees an opportunity to parlay his success into a career. Soon, however, his guilty conscience begins to question the motives of those who’ve hired him to find the missing–especially when the missing don’t want to be found. Take his latest case: beautiful and wealthy Reese Abernathy. Is she really a deeply troubled daughter or is her father a murderer?
As the narrator of The Prince of Venice Beach, Cali has an authentically young, and surprisingly, naïve voice. His caring demeanor and offbeat charm make him a likable character and while he talks about the dangers of “living rough” and runs into a few fists along the way, it’s violence with a light touch. (If you’re looking for a realistically grim portrayal of life on the streets, then read this instead.)
Cali is a rather laid back investigator with good intentions and better friends, including basketball buddies Diego and JoJo and potential partner, Ailis, who’s gently pushing Cali toward a GED. I’m getting nostalgic, but Cali reminds me of a teenaged Magnum P.I. , minus the glamour and expensive toys.
If you’re looking for a detective novel peppered with colorful people in a distinctive location, The Prince of Venice Beach is worth checking out. The straightforward narrative and narrow focus make this book a quick read, perfect for your own day of sand, surf and sun.
Don’t have an e-reader and can’t wait for the library’s hard copy to come in? Then mosey on by Whitney’s Children’s Department and be the first to snag an autographed copy to keep! Just tell us you heard it in Teen Tuesday. Happy Reading!