This book has a setting that begins in Tupelo Landing, a nice small
town. The main character is Mo who has a best friend Dale who both live in this
town Tupelo Landing. One morning, Mo
wakes up Dale, and the two of them head over to their favorite café that Mo’s guardians,
Miss Lana and the Colonel, own. Miss Lana and the Colonel are not Mo’s real
parents. The Colonel had been in an accident after crashing his car and losing
his memory. He had found Mo strapped to and floating on a raft during a
terrible hurricane when she was just a newborn baby. Mo is aware of her story,
and nowadays she constantly writes letters and puts them into bottles to float
down the creek. She hopes that someday her unknown to her, ‘upstream mother’ will
reply to her letters. While Dale and Mo are running the café, a detective from Winston-Salem
named Joe Starr stops by and says that he’s investigating a murder. The Colonel
returns to take over the café because his wife, Miss Lana is out of town
visiting her cousin, Uncle Gideon. Miss Lana had given Mo and Dale permission
to go to the races with Dale’s older brother Lavender that night. Before they
go to the races, though, Dale decides to return a boat he’s stolen from their
selfish neighbor Mr. Jesse for a reward of ten dollars. He gets ten dollars and
shares half of it with Mo when they get to the racetrack to watch Lavender race.
Things go terrible when Lavender suffers from a concussion
trauma to his head in the race and has to be rushed home. While Mo is at Dale
and Lavender’s mom’s (Miss Rose’s) house, the Colonel calls to inform that Mr.
Jesse has been murdered and says that he’s coming to pick Mo up instantly. Mo
goes home, but Dale sneaks into her house in midnight as he is afraid because
he maybe a suspect since he took Mr. Jesse’s boat. Things only get worse when
they notice that an unknown man was watching them. Both Mo and Dale get more
frightened. Mo goes to check out the crime scene without permission the next
day, and she finds a possible murder weapon—a blood stained oar from the boat.
Dale approaches Detective Starr and says that he was the last person to see Mr.
Jesse. Starr knows that he’s probably not the killer, but he cuffs Dale for a
plan; to hope and try to relax and lure in the murderer. Starr drives him away in his Chevy Impala,
hoping to find the clue in suspicion that they have a suspect and Dale was later
released. Starr learns at the funeral that Mr. Jesse had been donating $100 to
the church every week for the past eleven years.
At the Mimosa festival both Mo and Dale come up with the idea by
selling ad space on Lavender’s car to fundraise money. After the festival, Mo entire
house ransacked and Miss Lana was missing. The murderer left a note on the
table to inform Mo that he has Miss Lana and want money in return of her release.
Apparently the murderer was a bank robber named Robert Slate.
On the other hand, police were searching for Miss Lana and the
Colonel while Miss Rose took Mo back to her house to keep her safe. The murderer was calling Miss Rose’s house demanding
$500,000 for their release, but police were unable to track the call. The Colonel
was brave enough to escape the murderer and called Miss Rose and told that Mo
shouldn’t trust anyone. She even lied Deputy Marla when she asked. When Mo and
Dale went back to their house to look for papers that the Colonel told her,
Deputy Marla showed up and pointed a gun at them. They realized at that point
that Deputy Marla is involved with Robert Slate in plotting the murder. Somehow
both kids manage to escape and ran to Miss Rose house. When they were there, Mr.
Macon (Dale’s abusive father) breaks in and hurt Miss Rose and confront that he
is helping Slate with supplies. At that point Dale points gun at him and
threatens to kill him if he moves. The colonel showed up at that point and tie
Mr. Macon up.
Mo and Dale went with the Colonel to Mr. Jesse’s house, where
Slate was looking for money by pulling up the floorboards. They captured Slate
and tied him. Soon thereafter Miss Lana shows up with Starr who helped her
escape. Before the Colonel lost his memory, he remembers something from his
past that he used to be Robert Slate’s Lawyer. All bad guys were captured and
were sentenced to jail at the end of this story. Miss Lana re opens up the café
for business. Mo realizes that what matters the most is that all her family is
here and doesn’t really care if she gets a response from her upstream mother.