The Secrets of Stone Creek

The Secrets of Stone Creek
Age Range
Release Date
November 22, 2022
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The Hardy Boys meets We Dream of Space in this tender middle grade adventure about a girl with the heart of an explorer who discovers more than she bargained for with her two brothers over the course of one fateful week.

Finley Walsh and her best friend Sophie were adventurers, like the ones they grew up reading about in 100 of the World’s Greatest Female Adventurers—that is, until Sophie found new friends. Between losing her best friend and feeling overlooked by her mother and older brother, Finley is determined to prove herself by becoming a great adventurer like the ones in her book.

The perfect opportunity comes when she and her brothers stay with an estranged relative in Stone Creek, a remote tourist town dedicated to the legend of a local adventurer who went missing two decades before. Finley knows that if she finds the missing woman, she’ll not only be able to prove herself to Sophie and her family, but also be able to meet a real, live adventurer just like her.

Finley convinces her brothers to join her in her rescue mission. But as they delve deeper into Stone Creek’s painful past, it becomes harder to know who they can trust—including each other—and they realize some places are better left unexplored.

Editor review

1 review
"True Crime" Style Mystery
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Finley Walsh wants desperately to be an adventurer; she and her best friend Sophie had a books with the 100 top female adventures, and spent a lot of time thinking about places they go travel. Lately, though, Sophie doesn't want to think about adventuring as much. When Finley's mother has to go away for work, she contacts her cousin Jeff to watch Finley and her older brother Oliver and younger brother Quinn. Even though they haven't been in contact for a while, cousin Jeff is glad to help out, since the children's father has moved away and isn't very helpful. Arriving at Stone Creek, Finley is excited that there local mystery; after finding a treasure as a child, Meggie Riley disappeared one night. There are lots of theories, and the town's economy is heavily bound to the tourists who come and want to find out more. Finley sees this as an opportunity to finally have a REAL adventure, and thinks that this will entice Sophie to be friends again, and also encourage her mother to rely on her as much as she relies on Oliver. Jeff is busy running a diner, so the children are able to spend a lot of time roaming around town, interviewing locals and also scouring the woods for twenty year old clues. They run into Jason, the son of Meggie's former boyfriend, and Oliver becomes very fond of him. Finley does manage to find some clues that no one else has unearthed, but these start to get her into trouble. When she starts to get mysterious phone calls and feels like she is being watched and stalked, it seems like a bad idea to continue with her search, but she doesn't let anything stop her, not even a family connection to the disappearance. Will Finley be able to solve this cold case and finally consider herself a "real" adventurer?
Good Points
A lot of my students ask for "true crime" stories because they listen to podcasts about things like the disappearance of Meggie Riley, so I can see this being a topic that they might pick up. There's the underlying friend drama with Sophie (even though we don't see her) as well as Finley's anxiety and her uneasy relationship with her mother that motivates a lot of her actions. The children are given a lot of freedome to roam about, and they have Jeff's little dog Malt to go along with them. The details about Meggie's fate get a bit gruesome, and there's some real danger and intrigue, which my students will enjoy. Oliver's crush on Jason is reciprocated, so there's a bit of light romance as well.

Do be aware that the current trend for illustrated covers hides that this gets a bit dark. Middle school readers will love this, but younger elementary school ones might not care as much for this. Finley makes a lot of really poor choices, some of which endanger herself and others.

Readers who liked this author's Pepper's Rules for Sleuthing will want to pick up this new mystery especially since it takes a dark turn, and this is more in line with April Henry's Girl Forgotten than lighter mysteries like Bury's Drew LeClair Gets A Clue or Magoon's Chester Keene Cracks the Code.
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