Study Guide

Three Times Lucky

Three Times Lucky Summary

The book opens in Tupelo Landing, a small town with less than two hundred residents. The main character, Mo, wakes up Dale, her best friend, and the two of them head on over to the café that Mo's guardians—Miss Lana and the Colonel—own.

Miss Lana and the Colonel are not Mo's real parents. The Colonel found Mo floating on a raft during a terrible hurricane when she was just a newborn, shortly after he'd crashed his car and lost his memory. Nowadays, Mo constantly writes letters and puts them into bottles to float down the creek in hopes of finding her "upstream mother," which is what she calls her real mother.

While Dale and Mo are running the café, a detective from out of town named Detective Starr stops by and says that he's investigating a murder. The Colonel returns and takes over the café because Miss Lana is still out of town visiting her cousin, giving 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 mean neighbor Mr. Jesse for a reward. He gets ten dollars and gives half of it to Mo when they get to the racetrack to watch Lavender, Dale's dreamy older brother, race.

Things go awry when Lavender crashes in the race and has to be rushed home since he might have a concussion. While Mo is at Miss Rose's house (she's Dale and Lavender's mom), the Colonel calls and says that he's coming to pick Mo up right away: Mr. Jesse has been murdered. Dun dun dun…

Mo goes home, but Dale sneaks into her house in the middle of the night. He's all freaked out because he stole Mr. Jesse's boat and he's afraid that he'll be a suspect. Things only get darker when they look outside the window and see a strange man looking back at them. Gulp. Both Mo and Dale start screaming until Miss Lana shows up and tells them that they need to calm down. It seems she has come home but the Colonel has now left.

Mo goes to check out the crime scene the next day, and when she does, she finds the murder weapon—a bloody boat oar. Dale comes clean to Detective Starr and says that he was the last person to see Mr. Jesse. The detective knows that he's not the killer, but he still cuffs Dale and drives him away in his patrol car, hoping that the real killer will get sloppy if he believes they already have a suspect.

Dale is later released and becomes a town celebrity. He goes to Mr. Jesse's funeral and tells Mo that this unfamiliar man has been following him around—he thinks that it's his undercover police bodyguard. At the funeral, Detective Starr learns that Mr. Jesse had been giving $100 to the church every week for the past eleven years.

Mo and Dale come up with the idea to raise money for Lavender after his car crash by selling ad space on his car at the Mimosa Festival. Good thinking, right? But the good times don't last long…

After the festival, Mo goes home to find her entire house ransacked and Miss Lana missing. There's a note on the table from the murderer stating that he has Miss Lana and won't give her back until he gets what he wants. Oh no… Detective Starr has them look through some mugshots to see if they recognize anyone, and Dale points out the man that he thought was his undercover bodyguard. Apparently he's actually a bank robber named Robert Slate. Miss Rose takes Mo back to their house to keep her safe while the police search for Miss Lana and the Colonel.

Robert Slate calls Miss Rose's house several times demanding a ransom of a half a million dollars for Miss Lana and the Colonel, but the police can never track the call in time. The Colonel calls at one point and says that he's escaped and that Mo shouldn't trust anyone, so she lies to Deputy Marla when she asks who called.

Mo and Dale go back to the house to find a packet of papers that the Colonel told her to look for. When they're there, Deputy Marla comes in and points a gun at them—turns out she's in cahoots with Robert Slate. Say it ain't so. The kids manage to knock her out and tie her up before running back to Miss Rose's house as a hurricane brews.

When they get there, Mr. Macon (Dale's abusive father whom Miss Rose is divorcing) breaks in and hits Miss Rose. He admits to helping Robert Slate with supplies, and Dale points a gun at him and threatens to shoot. The Colonel shows up just in time to help them tie Mr. Macon up. Phew.

The Colonel then goes with Mo and Dale to Mr. Jesse's house, where they find Robert Slate pulling up the floorboards to look for money. Dale, Mo, and the Colonel subdue him, and shortly thereafter Miss Lana shows up with Detective Starr. She escaped and went to get help. The Colonel remembers something about his life from before he lost his memory: He used to be Robert Slate's lawyer. No wonder the Colonel hates lawyers so much—he blames himself for getting someone as evil as Slate off easy.

At the end of the story, all of the bad guys are serving time and Miss Lana reopens the café to much fanfare. She explains to the townspeople that she and the Colonel fell in love twelve years ago when he was a lawyer, but that he lost his memory after getting Robert Slate a light sentence (which he always regretted). Mo finds one of her bottles floating in the creek with her note to her upstream mother, and realizes that she doesn't really care if she gets an answer—she has all the family she needs right here.

  • Chapter 1

    Trouble in Tupelo Landing

    • Our scrappy narrator—rising sixth grader Moses "Mo" LoBeau—informs us that trouble comes to Tupelo Landing right after noon on the third of June.
    • But before any of that happens, Mo is completely unaware. She starts off her day by peeking into her best friend Dale's house at 6:00AM and tells him that she can't just play today; she has to open up the café because her guardians, Miss Lana and the Colonel, are gone.
    • Miss Rose, Dale's pretty mama, comes in to see what the fuss is all about, and Dale informs her that he's going to help Mo open up the café.
    • They scamper on over to the café parking lot, where the Colonel's new car, a '58 Thunderbird, is parked. Dale admires it since he loves cars. In fact, his big brother Lavender (weird name, huh?) races cars and works as an auto mechanic.
    • Dale tries to convince Mo not to open up the café so that they can go fishing instead. She asks him where he found a boat, and he says that he "borrowed" Mr. Jesse's boat… meaning that he stole it for the time being.
    • They get inside the café and Mr. Jesse comes in for breakfast. Since Mo's too young to use the grill, she's offering all their customers a "special" of peanut butter sandwiches and Mountain Dew today. How fancy.
    • Pretty much everyone in town trickles into the café over the next few hours. Mo and Dale work hard to make plenty of peanut butter sandwiches, spoon out cold bowls of Miss Lana's premade soup, and pour glasses of Mountain Dew.
    • Then at lunchtime, a stranger walks into the café. And everything gets interesting.
  • Chapter 2

    The Colonel

    • The stranger orders a burger and a sweet tea, which Mo immediately tells him they can't serve, so he goes with a sandwich instead.
    • He introduces himself as Detective Joe Starr and says that he's from Winston-Salem, but is in Tupelo Landing to investigate a murder. Uh-oh.
    • Apparently some man named Dolph Andrews was murdered in Winston-Salem a few weeks ago, and Detective Starr is here to track down some leads.
    • The detective glances outside and asks who owns the Thunderbird. At this very moment, the Colonel walks in and says that it's his car—and then asks the detective why he cares.
    • Mo gets all nervous because the Colonel doesn't always act nicely around authority figures. Everyone else in the café gets a little nervous too, even the mayor, who tries to smooth things over.
    • Detective Starr asks the Colonel when he got his car, and Mo is surprised to hear him lie and say that he's had it for a few years, instead of telling the truth which is that he's only had it a few weeks. Apparently Dolph Andrews collected vintage cars and a few are missing.
    • After the detective leaves, the Colonel remarks that the only thing worse than a man with a badge is a lawyer. This guy's totally got a thing against lawyers.
    • The diners glance out the window to see Detective Starr taking down the car's license plate number; they all start gossiping and speculating immediately.
    • Mr. Jesse's been complaining about how his boat was stolen, so Dale suggests that he offer a reward for its return. What a scam artist.
    • Mr. Jesse's a mean, bitter man so he is against the idea initially, but then he writes on a piece of paper that he'll offer a $10 finder's fee for the boat's return.
  • Chapter 3

    The Three Day Rule

    • That night, Mo pulls out her Piggly Wiggly Chronicles—a series of notebooks that she uses to research her own autobiography.
    • For as long as she can remember, Mo's been trying to find her mother; there's a map of North Carolina on her wall with pushpins on all the places that she's searched for her mother.
    • The phone rings and Mo picks it up to hear that someone's found one of her messages in a bottle… but that he's not her mother. She thanks the caller and hangs up before placing another pushpin on her map.
    • What Mo knows about her history is this: She was born eleven years ago during one of the biggest hurricanes in history, and her mother tied her to a raft and sent her downstream to safety.
    • The Colonel crashed his car near the creek, saw her floating by on the raft, and saved her. He and Miss Lana then took Mo in and have raised her like she's their own daughter ever since.
    • Anna Celeste, Mo's sworn enemy, calls her a throwaway kid, but Mo still feels lucky that she has the Colonel and Miss Lana.
    • The Colonel pops into her bedroom and Mo asks him if Miss Lana has called yet—he reminds her that Miss Lana just left this morning, though, so it's nowhere near the three day rule.
    • The rule in their household is that whenever the Colonel or Miss Lana leaves home, they have to call and check-in at least once every three days.
    • He tells her to call Miss Lana if she wants to—after all, she's just visiting her Cousin Gideon in Charleston—but Mo tells him that she doesn't want to over-dial. Then she returns to her search.
    • Miss Lana started the search eleven years ago when she called to towns upstream after the hurricane to ask if anyone was missing a baby. And whenever people from Tupelo Landing leave town, they ask around to see if they can find Mo's real family. But no one's turned up any leads yet.
    • The Colonel taps on her door again and says that they're going to have popcorn in five minutes.
    • The phone rings again and Mo picks it up hoping it's Miss Lana, but it's just another townsperson offering her a ride to Anna Celeste's party. She says no obviously.
    • Anna Celeste has been Mo's enemy since the first day of kindergarten. When Mo got to the playground that day, Anna Celeste's mom told her not to play with Mo because she wasn't "one of them."
    • Mo wanted to cry, but instead she charged at Anna Celeste like a bull and knocked her over. After that, Miss Lana bought her notebooks so that she could work out her rage on the page instead of through physical alterations.
    • The phone rings again and this time it is Miss Lana. Yay! Mo decides not to tell her about the detective or Mr. Jesse's missing boat because it will just make Miss Lana worry.
    • Mo thinks about how she and the Colonel are connected: He came into town on the same stormy night and lost his memory when he got into a car crash. The first thing he remembers is getting out of that car and finding the baby in the creek.
    • After Miss Lana's phone call, Mo scurries to find the Colonel and they settle down in front of the television with some popcorn. She looks outside and sees Mr. Jesse's lights flickering. It's the last time she'll see that.
  • Chapter 4

    Meeting Up at Lavender's

    • The next day, Mr. Jesse comes into the café for lunch and tries to get his pudding for free because he claims it tastes funny. Mo won't let him get away with his cheap schemes, though, so he leaves in a foul mood—as usual.
    • Mo and Dale decide to go check on his big brother Lavender, who is nineteen and lives in his own place. Mo has a huge crush on him and always asks him to marry her, though he always says no.
    • Dale shows up and tells Lavender that their dad came home and was drinking again. Apparently their father, Mr. Macon, is a mean drunk, which is why Lavender doesn't live at home anymore.
    • Even though it's going to be Karate Night at the café, Mo gets super excited when Lavender asks them to go to the racetrack tonight. She rushes back to the café to ask the Colonel for permission.
    • He asks for all the details and then tells her that she can go… so long as she's home by 10:00PM.
  • Chapter 5

    At the Carolina Raceway

    • Lavender picks them up in his truck and Mo notices that Dale's shoes are still wet because he went to see Mr. Jesse this afternoon for the reward money. He must have pulled the boat out of the creek.
    • As they drive, Mo reads from the newspaper article about how she was found in Tupelo Landing, even though Dale complains that he's tired of her search for her "real" family.
    • They get to the racetrack an hour later and Lavender gives them money to buy snacks for him and his friends. Dale hands Mo five dollars—her half of the reward money that he got from Mr. Jesse.
    • The kids also run into their teacher Miss Retzyl, and are surprised to see her in shorts instead of her usual dowdy dresses. They're also surprised to see that she's there with Detective Starr of all people.
    • They take the snacks over to Lavender and his friend, who are sitting with twin girls named Crissy and Missy. Obviously Mo doesn't like them.
    • Lavender joins the race and it is all fun and games until his car spins out of control and crashes into a concrete barrier. Oh no…
    • Lavender is a bit bruised and beat-up after the accident, and the doctor tells him that he needs someone to keep an eye on him since he might have a concussion.
    • As they're driving back to town, they see that Fool's Bridge is closed and there are a ton of police lights; they take another way back to Miss Rose's house instead.
    • They pull up and Mo tells Miss Rose that Lavender's been in an accident but is okay (as long as he doesn't have a concussion).
    • After Miss Rose scolds Lavender and his friend for being reckless, she calls the Colonel to ask if Mo can sleep over. But as she's talking on the phone, her face goes pale and she says that she'll keep Mo safe until the Colonel gets here.
    • After she hangs up, everyone in the room asks her what's wrong. She tells them that there's been a murder… and that Mr. Jesse is dead.
  • Chapter 6

    Keep Your Windows and Doors Locked

    • Once she's in the car with the Colonel, Mo refuses to believe that Mr. Jesse is dead until the Colonel gently tells her that the police found his body—he's definitely dead.
    • He tells her to keep her eyes and ears open and to stay safe, then they go to the café since Karate Night is still happening.
    • Poor Mo gets paired with Anna Celeste, who immediately starts criticizing and mocking her.
    • Then Detective Starr shows up and starts asking people what they've been doing all night. Anna Celeste pipes up to say that she and her mom drove past Mr. Jesse's earlier today, and that there was a boy near his house.
    • Mo immediately panics. She knows who Anna Celeste saw—it was obviously Dale pulling the boat over so that he could collect the reward money.
    • Detective Starr tells them all that he found Mr. Jesse's body in the boat, and that he suffered from blunt force trauma. Yeah, this isn't looking so good for Dale…
    • He also asks where Miss Lana is and says that he'd like to talk to her once she gets back into town. Detective Starr calls the Colonel out on lying about when he bought the car, and the Colonel apologizes.
  • Chapter 7


    • When the Colonel and Mo walk back to the house, they're worried because they don't see the light from Mo's Elvis nightlight, which she always keeps on.
    • The Colonel tells her to stay back while he searches the house, but he just finds that the bulb has burned out—no one's hiding out in their home. Phew.
    • He asks her if she's scared, and they both admit that they're a little frightened. Then Mo says that she'll sleep with her door open and the Colonel says that he'll sleep on the sofa. That way, they won't be so scared.
    • In her room, Mo pulls out a notebook and writes to her upstream mother (what she calls her real mother) about Mr. Jesse's death.
    • She also calls Dale and tells him that he's probably a suspect in the murder since he was the last person to be seen with Mr. Jesse.
    • In the middle of the night, Mo wakes up to someone tapping on the window and freaks out, thinking that it's the murderer—but it's just Dale.
    • He's moaning and groaning about how he'll go to jail for the rest of his life (or get the electric chair), and Mo tells him to calm down; they'll figure out who the real killer is.
    • They decide to start their own detective agency, dubbing themselves the Desperado Detective Agency. They'll start searching for clues about the murderer right away.
    • As they're plotting, though, Dale looks up and his face goes pale. Mo follows his gaze and sees an unfamiliar man in her window. What in the world?
    • They start hollering for the Colonel since they're convinced that this guy is the killer… but he doesn't respond.
    • Mo and Dale creep over to the sofa, ready to wake up the Colonel. But they find Miss Lana there instead. She asks them why they're making so much noise, and Mo tells her that there's a killer at the window.
  • Chapter 8

    Miss Lana

    • Miss Lana says that the Colonel left after she came home, and that she doesn't know where he's gone. Then she realizes that Mo and Dale are serious about the face in the window and stands up to check all the locks.
    • She calls a neighbor and then turns to Dale, puzzled as to why he's at their house in the middle of the night. Mo quickly tells her that they're just working on their detective agency.
    • As they talk, Mo realizes that Miss Lana is under the impression that Mr. Jesse murdered someone—maybe the husband of his girlfriend. Mo has to break it to her that Mr. Jesse is the one who's been killed… and that the murderer is still on the loose.
    • Their neighbors come to search the yard but find nothing. After they leave, Mo and Dale tell Miss Lana everything, even about how Dale stole Mr. Jesse's boat and returned it for reward money.
    • She assures them that they don't have to tell Detective Starr anything, and then starts talking about planning a memorial service for Mr. Jesse.
    • Mo goes back to her bedroom and writes to her upstream mother about everything that's happened. Again she asks her mother to come find her.
  • Chapter 9

    The Cousin Information Network

    • The next morning, Mo and Dale go to Skeeter's house. Skeeter is only a year older than them, but she considers herself a lawyer-in-training. They're going to ask for her help.
    • They ask her to look into Mr. Jesse's girlfriend. Skeeter and her assistant reveal that Anna Celeste definitely knows that Dale is the boy that she saw at Mr. Jesse's, which worries Dale a lot.
    • Mo and Dale go to the café to help Miss Lana with the breakfast rush. Dale acts really awkward the whole time, though—he's bad at not looking guilty.
    • Miss Lana and the Reverend talk about the memorial service and decide that they'll host it at Creekside Church that Sunday.
    • The reverend's son comes up to them and asks them to look for his lost cat since Desperado Detectives has advertised that they'll find lost pets for free.
  • Chapter 10

    At the Tobacco Farm

    • They head over to Dale's house, where Miss Rose is waiting—and totally furious at Dale. Apparently when he snuck out in the middle of the night, he left a note that said that he was a murder suspect but that she shouldn't worry. Smooth.
    • Miss Rose tells him that he could have been killed, and that he's grounded indefinitely. And then she hands him a long list of chores to complete.
    • One of the chores is to clean out the tobacco barn, which looks like it's going to take about a million years. Miss Rose gives Mo a ride home while Dale is left with his never-ending chores.
  • Chapter 11

    Murder Weapon to Go

    • Mo desperately wants to go to the crime scene, but Miss Lana tells her it's unsafe.
    • Instead Miss Lana tells Mo to open her present: She's gotten Mo a scrapbook for her autobiography, and has even included pictures of their strange little family.
    • After much wheedling, Miss Lana relents and Mo heads on over to Mr. Jesse's place; a lot of other people are milling about watching the police do their job.
    • Seeing the big crowd, Mo gets an idea: She can take orders for the café to cater their lunches. What an entrepreneurial spirit.
    • She has a couple of her friends, including Skeeter, start taking down orders while she sneaks past the crime tape to get a better look at Mr. Jesse's place.
    • She sees Detective Starr talking to his two deputies, Ben and Marla. Detective Starr hears her sneaking up on them and almost shoots her, but Mo calls out.
    • Then she makes a crazy find—she discovers Mr. Jesse's oar with bloodstains on it. She's found the murder weapon.
  • Chapter 12

    Stay Away from My Crime Scene

    • Even though Mo is the one who finds the murder weapon, Detective Starr is still pretty put out and insists on driving her back to the café.
    • When they get back to the café, Anna Celeste and her mom are demanding that they get their meals free of charge, obviously blackmailing them with the information about Dale. Ugh.
    • The café is decked out like it's 1930s Paris now because Miss Lana likes to change the theme around. She's even dressed for the part.
    • Detective Starr starts asking Miss Lana where the Colonel is, and she tells Mo to run out back to see if he's out there fishing… even though the Colonel never fishes.
    • He asks some more questions about Mr. Jesse's girlfriend and even demands to know Miss Lana's alibi. Then he offers to give Mo a ride back to Mr. Jesse's, where plenty of people are waiting for their lunches.
    • Miss Lana says that she'll drive Mo herself, though, even though Miss Lana cannot drive. Before he leaves, Detective Starr also says that he'd like to talk to Dale.
    • That's when Mr. Macon—Dale's father—starts yelling at him and saying that Miss Rose threw him out. Good riddance.
  • Chapter 13

    Don't Call Me Baby

    • Miss Lana gets into the Thunderbird and starts driving… and it's terrible. She is the worst driver of all time and Mo actually fears for her life.
    • She finally reaches Mr. Jesse's driveway and a bunch of people jump out of the way. Then they deliver all the lunches and head over to Miss Rose's house.
    • They pick up Dale and Miss Rose and head back over to Mr. Jesse's place, with Dale freaking out in the backseat because he's positive that he's going to jail forever.
    • Detective Starr asks him questions about how he stole the boat and what Mr. Jesse said when Dale returned it.
    • At first Dale claims that the whole interaction was nice, but then he caves and tells the truth, which is that Mr. Jesse called him and his father trash. Some harsh words were exchanged.
    • Detective Starr keeps asking Dale who was with him because they found adult footprints, but it turns out that this is explained by the fact that Dale was wearing Lavender's shoes when he went out there.
    • Then Detective Starr goes to cuff Dale. Oh no…
    • But Detective Starr explains that he doesn't actually believe Dale is the killer. He thinks that the killer is watching the investigation, though, and will get sloppy if he believes the police already have a suspect. Hence the cuffs.
    • Dale is scared, but he holds out his hands and agrees to be fake-arrested.
  • Chapter 14

    Deputy Marla

    • After Dale is handcuffed and led away in Detective Starr's patrol car, he becomes the talk of the town, and his fame follows him even after he's been released.
    • Mo is still worried because they haven't heard from the Colonel. Miss Lana tells her not to worry, though, and asks her to take some flowers over to Miss Retzyl's place.
    • This excites Mo because she's actually being invited into a teacher's house. When she gets there, she also meets Deputy Marla who handles Detective Starr's communications.
    • Mo asks her if she ever looks into cold cases for missing persons, but she says no.
  • Chapter 15

    A Spiritual Curveball

    • Even though no one really liked Mr. Jesse when he was alive, the whole town shows up for his funeral service.
    • Dale is there and pleased with his newfound fame. He brags to Mo that he even saw some guy following him around, and that he's pretty sure he's a bodyguard in plainclothes.
    • Miss Lana leads the whole congregation in saying things about Mr. Jesse… not many of them nice. It turns out people still don't like him that much, even though they've come to his funeral.
    • After the service, Deputy Marla pulls Mo aside to ask why she was talking about cold cases. Mo admits that she wants to look for her upstream mother, and Marla says that if Mo ever needs help with a specific piece of information, she can come to her.
    • Mo goes over to where Detective Starr and Reverend Thompson are talking about Mr. Jesse and how he gave a hundred dollars to the church every single week.
    • Detective Starr wants to know where Mr. Jesse got all that money. After all, it seems odd that Mr. Jesse would have given $57,200 to the church over the years.
    • That night, Mo writes to her upstream mother about her spiritual beliefs. Mo believes, like Miss Lana, in treating people well.
  • Chapter 16

    Lavender Blues

    • By Monday morning, the Colonel still hasn't gotten in touch with them and Mo is more worried than ever. Even Miss Lana is worried by this point.
    • Mo and Dale head over to Lavender's place and are surprised to see that the whole place looks trashed. He hasn't been keeping it clean.
    • Dale realizes that Lavender is depressed because he's short on money.
    • Lavender's worried about how Miss Rose will survive financially now that she's kicking her husband out, but Mo says that she'll help him to come up with a thousand dollars. Lavender doesn't believe her, but she says that if Lavender fixes his racecar, she'll figure out a way to raise the money at this year's Mimosa Festival.
    • They peek out into the street and see Dale's bodyguard hiding behind a bush. How odd.
  • Chapter 17

    Mr. Jesse's Final Contribution

    • Mo goes to the church, where the reverend's son tells her that they found the last hundred-dollar bill that Mr. Jesse left for them. He gives her a photocopy of it.
    • As she leaves the church, she hears Anna Celeste's mom berating her for having a terrible singing voice. Even though Anna Celeste is her sworn enemy, Mo tells her mother that Anna Celeste has the best singing voice in their class. That's nice.
    • At the café, Deputy Marla shows up for lunch and tells Mo that the oar is definitely the murder weapon.
    • After Marla finishes her lunch, Mo goes after her and gives her the photocopy of Mr. Jesse's hundred-dollar bill with a serial number on it. Instead of looking pleased, though, Marla looks like she's going to faint.
    • She thanks Mo and then gets right into her car and speeds away.
    • The Colonel finally calls after four days (breaking the three day rule), but after Miss Lana gets off the phone with him she looks disturbed.
    • Apparently the conversation was odd: He called Miss Lana "baby" and Mo "Moses." He never does that.
  • Chapter 18

    Miss Lana!

    • By the next day, Dale and Mo have come up with a genius way to raise money for Lavender's car at the Mimosa Festival: They've divided the surface area of Lavender's car into a bunch of smaller spaces and are planning to sell ad space. Pretty good, huh?
    • Plenty of townspeople stop by to buy spaces, and by the end of the night they've made over a thousand dollars.
    • Lavender even kisses Mo on the cheek, which thrills her to no end. It's her first kiss ever and it's from her biggest crush ever. Boom.
    • She runs back to her house with Dale behind her, but when she arrives, she stops cold. Their whole place looks like it's been ransacked, and she screams at Dale to help her find Miss Lana.
    • On the kitchen table, they find a note that says: "Starr—we both need something. You help me and I'll help you." Oh no… The killer's taken Miss Lana.
    • Detective Starr and Deputy Marla show up to search the house. The detective asks Mo lots of questions but she starts shaking and going into shock.
    • Miss Rose shows up and wraps Mo in a hug. At that moment, Mo bursts into tears as Miss Rose assures her that they'll find Miss Lana.
    • Detective Starr has them look through some mug shots on the computer and Dale asks him why his bodyguard is one of the men.
    • The detective tells him that it's Robert Slate, a bank robber. And then they all realize that the man who's been following Dale isn't a bodyguard… he's the murderer.
    • Miss Rose goes upstairs to pack up some of Mo's belongings so that she can come stay at their house—you know, until Miss Lana and the Colonel return.
  • Chapter 19

    Listening to the Stars

    • That night Mo can't sleep. She goes into the kitchen and finds Dale making a sandwich; he tells her that they'll find Miss Lana because they're detectives.
    • She keeps saying that she doesn't know why Robert Slate would take Miss Lana, but then she thinks of the rumors that surrounded the Colonel when he appeared in Tupelo Landing—about how he showed up with a suitcase full of cash.
    • Maybe Robert Slate has kidnapped Miss Lana to get that money.
  • Chapter 20

    A Suitcase Full of Cash

    • The next morning, Mo comes to breakfast and announces that she wants to tell Detective Starr about the suitcase full of cash rumor.
    • Detective Starr shows up at that moment (good timing, right?) and they tell him about the rumor. He also tells them that they're searching all of Slate's old hangouts in Winston-Salem.
    • He asks for more information about the Colonel, so Mo opens the scrapbook to show him what the Colonel wrote about the day that he came to Tupelo Landing and how he found Mo.
    • When he asks if there's any of that money left, Mo tells him about the dollar bill over the café's kitchen door. He says that he'll go get it and run the serial number to see if it's connected to any of Slate's bank robberies.
    • The phone rings and Dale goes to pick it up. When he returns, he says that it was Slate and that he's already hung up. What?
  • Chapter 21


    • A neighbor named Grandmother Miss Lacy Thornton shows up and invites everyone on a picnic. Even the mayor drops by to join them, and eventually half the town is eating in Miss Rose's yard.
    • Skeeter stops by and Mo asks her to check the serial number from Mr. Jesse's hundred-dollar bill and from the five-dollar bill that the Colonel gave her.
    • Every time the phone rings, everyone stops and freezes. They are obviously expecting it to be Robert Slate again.
    • Anna Celeste is there and she's even kind of nice to Dale and Mo. She tells Mo that she's always been jealous of the fact that Mo has two mothers—Miss Lana and her biological mother.
    • Then the phone rings again and Detective Starr comes over to Mo. Apparently Robert Slate is on the phone and he's asking for her, so they want her to stay on the line with him until they can trace the call.
    • Mo tries to stay calm but she starts freaking out and screaming at Robert Slate to tell her where Miss Lana is. Detective Starr takes the phone away from her but Slate hangs up and Marla says that she couldn't trace the call in time.
    • Detective Starr says that Slate is asking for a half a million dollars in ransom for the return of the Colonel and Miss Lana.
    • Mo is completely flabbergasted—they don't have that kind of money—and she promptly throws up all over the place.
  • Chapter 22

    A Town Full of Nobodies

    • Mo wakes up the next morning in Miss Rose's bed to find Dale watching her worriedly. He says that Miss Rose has gone to see a lawyer about his father moving out.
    • The only person in the house besides them is Deputy Marla, who assures them everything will be okay. She also asks if the Colonel has a lock box or something, since Slate is clearly convinced that he has a lot of money.
    • Mo says that she doesn't know anything about all of that but Marla keeps asking until Dale tells her that they have to go over to the tobacco barn to do their chores now.
    • After Marla's out of sight, Dale tells Mo that he has a bad feeling about Deputy Marla. Skeeter drops by, too, and says that the hundred-dollar bill was from a robbery, but the five-dollar bill was clean.
    • Dale is mad that she didn't tell him about the five-dollar bill and her suspicions that the Colonel was in on the heist, too. He says that he's sick of Mo looking for her upstream mother when she has all of these people here who love and care about her right here.
    • Mo apologizes and says that she understands—after all, she's being selfish by not appreciating her situation when other people have difficult family situations. She says that she hates Dale's daddy for hitting him.
    • Dale forgives her and they decide that they're partners again. Then they give his dog a bath.
    • Mo writes to her upstream mother and tells her about their fight, but she also includes a note to look for Miss Lana if she sees her around.
  • Chapter 23

    Creative Chaos

    • The next morning a hurricane heads their way and Miss Rose stocks up on supplies to make sure they can hole up in the house for a while.
    • While she's in town, Dale and Mo tie up all the things outside so they can't be tossed around by the wind. Deputy Marla is asleep when the phone rings and Mo picks it up to hear the Colonel's voice.
    • He tells her that he's escaped and not to trust anyone. He also says that she should go into his closet and get the packet on the shelf to give to Miss Rose.
    • The line clicks—meaning that Marla is now listening in—and Mo pretends that she's on the phone with a telemarketer who's trying to sell cruises. Then she hangs up.
    • She tells Dale and they go out on his bike. As they're pedaling into town, though, they see Dale's father driving by.
    • Back at the house, they go into the Colonel's room and find a packet on the shelf. There's a folder with Slate's name on it and a bunch of newspaper clippings and notes about Robert Slate. Why would the Colonel have all of this stuff?
    • As they're checking things out, they hear the front porch door, so they try to creep outside.
    • But as they're going, they find themselves face to face with the barrel of a gun… and the person on the other end of that gun is Deputy Marla.
    • She lowers her gun when she sees it's them, but demands to know what they're doing; when the kids try to leave, she grabs and starts shaking them.
    • The packet falls out of Mo's shirt and Marla goes to grab it, but Mo throws it to Dale. Then Mo picks up one of the Colonel' steel-toed boots and hits Marla with it. She drops like a bag of potatoes.
    • They use the Colonel's neckties to tie up Marla while she's still down, then they grab the packet and the Colonel's bayonet and run on out of there. But not before also flattening Deputy Marla's tires. Good thinking, guys.
  • Chapter 24

    Right Under Our Noses

    • As they're biking furiously away from the house, Mo calls out that she knows where Miss Lana is—she's probably in the abandoned Blalock house.
    • Dale reminds her that the place was already searched, but Mo points out that Deputy Marla was the one who searched that location.
    • She convinces Dale to stop by even though he's worried about the storm. They go inside and find that no one's there, but there are empty pizza boxes and blood all over the place. Mo starts freaking out and Dale says they'll go find Miss Rose.
  • Chapter 25

    A Hurricane Party

    • They burst through the door and start telling Miss Rose all about the blood that they found at the abandoned house and how Marla is a double-crosser. Miss Rose doesn't even get mad at them when they tell her about how they tied Marla up and flattened her tires.
    • Because of the storm, the phone line and the power go out and they have to light some candles.
    • They're sitting there playing cards by candlelight when Dale's father unexpectedly shows up and shoves Miss Rose across the room. How we wish he'd just go away already…
  • Chapter 26


    • Dale's dad demands that Miss Rose make him something to eat and threatens to tie Mo up like Miss Lana if she makes another sound. Does he have something to do with Miss Lana's disappearance?
    • Mo goes into karate stance and kicks Mr. Macon in the knee. He steps toward her with his fist raised and Dale shoots the bookcase behind his head.
    • They all turn around to see Dale standing there with a shotgun pointed at his father's heart. Mr. Macon tells Dale that he doesn't have the guts to shoot him—and then they hear the Colonel's voice telling him that this may be the case, but he'll certainly shoot.
    • He steps into the house and takes the gun from Dale before pointing it at Mr. Macon and calling him a traitor. He tells Mo to go get something to tie Mr. Macon up.
    • The Colonel demands to know where Miss Lana is, but Mr. Macon says that he doesn't know. Mr. Macon confesses to bringing over the pizzas for Robert Slate, though; he's been working with him.
    • Finally Mr. Macon tells them to check Mr. Jesse's place because Slate said something about going back there.
  • Chapter 27

    Storm Break

    • As they sit in Miss Rose's house during the storm, the Colonel tells Mo that when Miss Lana told him about that packet of papers in his closet, he knew that he was in some way involved with Robert Slate but he didn't know how.
    • He'll have to read through the papers later to figure it out.
    • Instead of writing to her upstream mother, this time Mo writes to Miss Lana, saying that they'll find her soon.
    • The storm starts to break so the Colonel says that he's going over to Mr. Jesse's. Mo insists on going, too, and Dale decides that he's coming along as her partner.
    • At Mr. Jesse's house, they peek through the window and see Slate inside: He's peeling back Mr. Jesse's rug and trying to pry up the floorboard, obviously looking for the money.
    • The Colonel has asked the kids to stay put, but when they see Slate leaning into the hole in the floor, Mo and Dale rush in and kick him so that he falls through the hole. Then they drag a table over the hole in the floor and get on top of it.
    • The Colonel comes in and demands to know where Miss Lana is, and Slate says that she hit him with a lamp and nearly killed him before she escaped. So all that blood Mo and Dale found was actually Slate's.
    • They hear a voice behind them and whirl around to see Miss Lana standing there with Detective Starr. She's safe. Yay.
  • Chapter 28

    Didn't See It Coming

    • They wait out the rest of the storm at Mr. Jesse's house and Mo cuddles up to Miss Lana. She's so glad that everyone she loves is safe.
    • Detective Starr finds a metal box underneath the floorboards. It's the loot from Slate's bank robbery. Apparently Mr. Jesse and Dolph Andrews were both Slate's accomplices in the bank robbery, and Slate went after them for the money after he got out of jail.
    • The detective is pretty upset to hear that Marla was in cahoots with the rest of the bad guys. He also shows the Colonel some old newspaper clippings from Slate's trial—which makes the Colonel super upset.
    • Apparently he used to be a lawyer. Not only that, but the Colonel was the lawyer who represented Robert Slate in court and got him a light sentence.
  • Chapter 29

    Dear Upstream Mother

    • The café reopens after two weeks. In that time period, Miss Lana, Dale, and Mo work hard to repair the busted windows, sweep out the hurricane debris, and mend the roof. They also take away the "No Lawyers" sign.
    • In that time period, Miss Rose also officially divorces Mr. Macon and starts her own business, opening the tobacco farm for tours.
    • Instead of racing his car, Lavender sells it for thirty thousand dollars and gives the money to Miss Rose. He likes building cars a lot more than he likes racing.
    • Everyone stops by for the grand reopening of the café, and Detective Starr even shows up with Miss Retzyl.
    • When everyone is gathered, Miss Lana decides to tell them the story of how she and the Colonel came to be here.
    • They met in Charleston twelve years ago and planned to elope. He was a lawyer representing Slate, and he got him off on a light sentence… but as Slate left the courtroom, he told the Colonel to find the loot and save it or he'd kill everyone connected to the case.
    • The next morning, the Colonel found his secretary dead and never forgave himself for getting Slate off easy.
    • He told Miss Lana to pack her bags so that they could go to Paris and start a new life. As he was coming to pick her up, though, he crashed his car and lost his memory… and found Mo.
    • Miss Lana found out where he was a week later and decided to stay with him until he remembered that he loved her.
    • Everyone in the café bursts into cheers and tells Miss Lana that they are glad to have her, the Colonel, and Mo with them.
    • When Mo walks outside later, she sees a bottle bobbing in the creek—she's super excited because she thinks it must be a note from her upstream mother.
    • But when she opens it, she finds that it's just one of her own notes. Instead of feeling disappointed, though, Mo thinks of all the wonderful times she's had with Miss Lana and the Colonel.
    • She's not disappointed at all. She's just happy to be home.