About the book: Three 'tween sneaker sleuths face the unsolved mystery of Jefferson Davis'lost gold treasure with a little bit of help from a ghostly black fist and divining rods.
Twelve-year-old Anna Mae Botts, her eight-year-old brother Malcolm, and Anna Mae's best friend Raul Garcia, face a ghostly black fist on their first day of school. It blocks their entrance into school, while dropping paper clues about Jefferson Davis' lost Civil War gold. Things get more complicated when a school fire occurs.
Mysterious events soon overtake Raul, Malcolm, and Anna Mae at school as well as at home. Rats, alphabet noodle clues, floating chalk, and phantom false-bottom wagons lead the tweens to travel the same route by car that was taken by Jefferson Davis and his gold-laden wagon train.
With divining rods given to her by her granma, computer printouts, and Spirit Journey memories that take her back to a Civil War past, Anna Mae, Raul, and Malcolm find Jefferson Davis' lost gold treasure, part of it buried on Chennault Plantation and more of it in a vacant lot on the outskirts of Warthen, Georgia.
I heard someone stomping, and I thought it was Malcolm fooling around. I sniffed the air. The scent of lavender and roses invaded the hallway. I retreated into the living room and looked around. My eyes centered on the window that faced the neighbor's hedge.
The window frosted over. Letters dripped on the glass like melting icicles, ragged and blurred. A cold black hand covered my mouth. I stiffened. My eyes swung to the other side of the room. In the far corner, a mist twisted. Time stretched out endlessly. I strained my ears, but I heard nothing.
Then I saw him. An officer dressed in a gray uniform with golden buttons, high black boots and silver spurs. He glided towards me, but he faded when he reached me.
I bit the hand. It jerked away. My lips burned. I screamed, "Granma!"
I must have fainted. When I came to, Granma and Malcolm were kneeling on the floor beside me.
"What happened?" Granma asked.
"She saw another haint," Malcolm said, wiping my forehead with a damp bathroom towel.
Granma glared. "No haints live here, oh dear Jesus. Tha' why I done made tha' mojo. Don' eveah let me hear yo' sayin' that 'gain."
"Wha'evah," Malcolm said.
"Anna Mae, wha' happened t' yo'?"
"It started with the window. It frosted over. Written letters appeared on it."
She narrowed her eyes and clambered back to her feet. Granma pushed past the sofa and crept to the window. I saw her eyes. They widened until you could see her brown pupils. She studied the window, reached up and touched it. "The window's wet, but I reckon. I don' see any lettah spellin' words. Yo' sure 'bout tha'?"
Malcolm helped me to my feet. I trembled a bit, but kept my balance.
"Granma, look!" Malcolm pointed. On the window, letters appeared. My name, Anna Mae, was spelled out. Malcolm ran over. He traced the letters with his fingertips.
Granma looked at the window, and then swung her eyes towards me. "Wha' are yo' goin' t' do 'bout it?"
I looked at her. "Yo' see my name?"
"Of course, chile. Wha' I want to know is wha' are yo'goin' t' do 'bout it?"
"I'm not sure. First yo' 'cuse me of lyin' and now yo'r not. Wha' gives?"
Granma said it so plainly that I thought I heard her wrong.
"Whose lost gold?"
Granma stamped her foot. "The black fist's lost gold. Child, yo' ain't been paying 'tention t' nothin' I been sayin'. Wha' are yo' goin' t' do 'bout it?"
"Why are yo' hollerin' at me? I'm doin' the best I can. This is new t' me. I need t' think first, 'fore I act."
"Don't take too long. Someone else might figurah it out afore yo', then what will yo' do?"
Malcolm's head darted between the two of us. He was confused. So was I. Why didn't Granma find the gold if she was so hot to trot for it? I turned and walked towards the kitchen. "Yo' still thirsty, Granma?"
"Changin' the subject? I reckon the lemonade still sounds good. Malcolm, yo' want some too?"
"Anna Mae," Malcolm screeched. "Look at it…on the living room window.
Hells bells, I thought that chicken hoodoo worked!"
"False bottoms!" was written on the window.
"Merciful heavens!" Granma shouted. Her hands flew up over her eyes and covered them. "It's meltin'" Malcolm howled. "See? Cat prints on the glass."
Granma backed up and sat on the sofa. She stroked her throat.
"Bettah write down wha' yo see 'fore it is gone. Malcolm, run int' yo' Poppa's den and get yo' sistah a slip of paper and pencil so she can write 'em down."
Malcolm ran down the hallway. I heard Poppa's study door open and then close. Malcolm rushed back into the room with a yellow-lined pad and a pencil stub. He licked the stub and handed both over to me. I wrote down what I saw.
I felt Granma's eyes watching me.
"Got 'em, " I said.
"Let's have our lemonade 'fore the haint comes back!"