Reviewed by Grandma Bev for TeensReadToo.com
Astrid Valentine was Duncan's neighbor, but he had mostly avoided her until that day when she hollered at Duncan and begged him to catch her little ratty dog for her. She was afraid he was going to get hit by a car. A few days later, he crawled through the doggy door in the back of the house, because Mrs. Valentine had locked herself out. Then she had a stroke, and Duncan's parents coerced him into feeding and watering the little dog, Mo, and letting him out into the back yard after school...just until Astrid was able to take care of him herself.
Duncan had no idea how complicated his life was about to become, because Astrid didn't bounce right back like Duncan thought she would. She was in the hospital for quite a while, and then when she did come home, she was still not able to take care of Mo, and Duncan agreed to keep doing it. Gradually, his feelings change for the crazy old lady, and he finds himself helping her more and more.
Mr. Valentine had been a junk dealer before he died, and the Valentine house was still literally a junkyard. There were some treasures in there, too, and Astrid's nephew, Eddie, is planning to sell off the collection. Duncan takes on the job of sorting the antiques, artifacts, and usable items from the huge shed at the back of the house. Then he discovers the mummy that is hidden in the basement.
Astrid begins to think that Eddie is stealing from her, and begs Duncan to help her hide some of her rare treasures, and that's when things start to go bad. Duncan hauls the mummy to the shed in back, buries some treasures, and takes some to his house to hide. Then there is a fire and the shed and mummy burn, and when the police enter the picture, everyone is looking at Duncan as a suspect in the thefts.
Betty Levin has created a compelling, sympathetic character in Duncan Veerick with a plot that is nonstop action. The suspense builds relentlessly right up to the ending in this novel that is a good choice for tweens that are looking for an exciting story.