Tia Lugo has a deadly secret.
Tia Lugo considers herself an ordinary thirteen-year-old girl. She just wants to enjoy the end of summer, which means hanging out with her best friend and neighbor, Julius, and ignoring her Puerto Rican grandmother’s embarrassing reliance on creepy candles, weird-smelling herb bundles, and eerie statues—all available for sale at the nearby botanica. But when Tia witnesses a murder late one night from her bedroom window, everything changes in an instant.
Now, Tia is terrified to tell anyone what she’s seen. What if the killer comes after her too? He knows where she lives. Even worse, Tia believes he’s sending her secret messages, reminding her to stay quiet. Desperate to keep herself and her family safe, Tia turns to the last place she ever thought she’d go: her grandmother's favorite shopping spot, the botanica.
As summer draws to a close, 13-year-old Tia Lugo, who is Puerto Rican, looks forward to attending Camp Troy, sponsored by the New York City Parks Department. The night before sleepaway camp, however, her asthma flares; as Tia reaches for her inhaler, she witnesses a murder outside her bedroom window. When the murderer threatens her into silence, Tia gives up camp to ensure her family's safety. Though Tia and her family don't believe in her grandmother's reliance on Puerto Rican traditions and remedies, she can't help but visit the botanica for extra protection. While her best friend, Julius, who has green eyes and brown skin, searches for clues and suspects, Tia struggles with the guilt of not assisting the police and tries to make amends with the victim's close friends. But tensions rise as the killer starts sending more messages and Tia feels him drawing closer. Vigilante (Saving Baby Doe) crafts a fast-paced thriller that takes place within a single week, while keeping the murder mystery thoroughly age-appropriate; a warm emphasis on community, integrity, and preserving individual histories rounds out the suspenseful narrative. Ages 10 14.