"Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief" tells the story of a young amateur detective who sees a thief steal from a woman's purse through her binoculars and sets out to solve the crime after the police do not believe her. Interwoven through the mystery is the additional intrigue of Sammy's unique and eventful personal life.
According to Publisher's Weekly, Sammy lives illegally with her grandmother in an old people's home where children are not allowed. Her mother left her there in order to pursue her dreams of becoming a Hollywood actress. Sammy is constantly trying to conceal her presence at the complex. She gets in and out and accesses restricted areas through a jiggered fire door.
At school, Sammy does not fit in. On her first day she gets suspended for punching another girl in the nose. She gets held back a year, but it happens that her mother had doctored her birth certificate to put her in school a year early anyway. She plays on the softball team and spends her time looking at the world through her grandmother's binoculars.
As she plays spy one night, Sammy sees a thief steal $4,000 from a lady's purse. Sammy thinks that the thief looks familiar. The thief also sees her watching him. Because the police do not believe her story, Sammy decides to catch the perpetrator before he comes after her.