->''We live in Santa Martina, remember? This town is full of wackos.''
-->'''Sammy Keyes and the Psycho Kitty Queen'''

''Sammy Keyes'', to quote TheOtherWiki, is a series of mystery novels aimed at children and teenagers that, of course, follows the adventures of the titular protagonist. In most of the books, she deals with everyday junior high school life, solves mysteries, and contends with her arch-nemesis Heather Acosta, though there have been a couple of exceptions to the formula.

!!These works contain examples of the following tropes:

* AdultFear: One story (''Search for Snake Eyes'') centers around Sammy running into a scared, desperate girl, who forces Sammy to take a bag. When the girl is forced to leave, it turns out that there's a baby inside. [[spoiler:It's later revealed that the baby was the girl's son and that she was forced to give him to a complete stranger to protect him from her abusive ex-boyfriend, who was hunting her down. The climax of the novel reveals that the ex did catch her, and left her in his basement, tied up and starving. After she's rescued, she wants to see her baby before getting medical treatment.]]
** Considering some of the dangerous situations Sammy gets into and somehow manages to get out of, mostly all of her books contain at least one example of AdultFear, which can either make the danger more realistic or make her getting out of it more improbable.
** The entirety of ''Kiss Goodbye'', full stop.
* AnAesop: Most of the books have at least one. Despite being {{Anvilicious}} at points, they're handled well.
* AlliterativeName: Tenille Toolee, the Dragon to Heather's BigBad.
* AlphaBitch: Heather, complete with a [[FlatCharacter one-dimensional]], [[TheDitz dimwitted]] GirlPosse.
* ArchEnemy: Heather Acosta, to Sammy.
* AuthorAppeal: Van Draanen's parents are Dutch immigrants, and so are Dot's. Her husband's great-grandfather crossed the plains in 1850. In ''Moustache Mary'', the eponymous pioneer was part of a group of travelers doing the same thing, and Sammy spends New Years' with Dot's family. It's one of the few cases where the authour appeal is ''educational''-as well as [[FoodPorn delicious]].
* BitchInSheepsClothing: [[spoiler:The Sisters of Mercy, big time!]]
* BluffTheEavesdropper: In ''Sisters of Mercy'', Sammy and Marissa do this to Monet when they start deliberately going over the wrong softball signals.
* BookEnds: ''Hotel Thief'' starts and ''Kiss Goodbye'' ends with Sammy waving to someone through a window. [[spoiler:And both books have the same culprit.]]
* CampGay: Art gallery owner--and Ren Faire booth-runner--Jojo in ''Art of Deception''.
* ChekhovsGun: As is natural for almost any detective story.
** Sammy's catcher's mitt, a TragicKeepsake from his DisappearedDad. [[spoiler: In ''The Search for Snake Eyes'' she uses it to hold a hose that spews hot water, to incapacitate the titular character.]]
** Her homeroom teacher's magnifying glass in ''The Art of Deception''. [[spoiler: Sammy uses it to identify a signature on a painting as a forgery.]]
** Sammy's jamming the fire escape door latch to get into the Highrise undetected comes back to bite her in ''Kiss Goodbye''. [[spoiler:Her attempted killer jams two doors in the hospital stairwell the same way in order to access the room containing an unconscious Sammy.]]
* ChekhovsGunman: Darren Cole, a rock musician first mentioned in ''Psycho Kitty Queen'' whose fandom includes Sammy, Casey, and Marissa's family. [[spoiler:In ''Showdown in Sin City'', it's revealed that he's Sammy's father.]]
** Throughout ''Kiss Goodbye'', it's suggested the man who [[spoiler:pushed Sammy off the fire escape]] is a villain from the earlier book. [[spoiler:It's the culprit from ''Hotel Thief'', Larry Daniels aka "Oscar the ice cream man."]]
* ChekhovsSkill:
** Hudson in ''The Sisters of Mercy'' teaches Sammy how to crack safe codes. This comes in handy when [[spoiler: she has to find proof that the titular characters are the thieves that have robbed a church]].
** Sammy getting unofficial wrestling lessons from Slammin' Dave
* CityOfAdventure: Santa Martina.
* CharacterNameAndTheNounPhrase: The format all the titles follow.
* ComicBookTime: The first installments were published, and presumably set, around 1990ish. About a year and a half has passed in Sammy's world, but the setting has kept pace with the twenty-some years passing on the outside: in recent books, most middle-school kids have their own cell phones.
* CoolOldGuy: Hudson.
* CoolOldLady: Grams has her moments. Notably when she [[spoiler: pins Diane Reijden down long enough for Sammy to rescue half a burned painting from a pire and expose Diane as a fraud.]]
* CrazyCatLady: In ''Psycho Kitty Queen'', obviously. A local former pageant queen named Katherine insistently goes by Kitty, keeps many cats, and harbors a vicious dislike of dogs. She claims to be able to identify a scrap of furry skin as a piece of dog ear...by licking it.
* CuteBruiser: And again, Sammy.
** Holly Janquell, her baseball bat, and her troubled past would like to weigh in, too.
* DarkerAndEdgier: How many kid detective series involve arson, murder, drugs, and sex, [[TropesAreNotBad without any loss in quality]]?
** As well as having thirteen and fourteen year olds drinking and smoking. While underage drinking and such are handled in other, grittier stories, [[WhatDoYouMeanItsNotForKids few of them are aimed at younger children.]]
** In the final book [[spoiler:Sammy gets pushed off the fire escape and ends up in the hospital, and the one who pushed her keeps coming back to finish the job]].
* DeadpanSnarker: A lot of characters in the series have shades of this, but it's most apparent in [[FirstPersonSmartass Sammy's narration.]]
* DebateAndSwitch: In ''The Art of Deception'' Hudson while in a relationship with "Grams" finds himself attracted to Diane Reijden, an artist who does poignant oils of various subjects. Hudson claims that falling in love with Diane is a matter of falling in love with the art, while Grams in GreenEyedMonster mode claims that the art is shallow and tacky, manipulating emotions. Sammy, caught in the middle, doesn't know what to think since she likes the paintings but she doesn't like seeing Grams hurt. [[spoiler: Then she realizes that Diane, aka "Elizabeth," didn't do the paintings but took credit for them after her father left them to her, and Diane was willing to destroy them once lithographs were taken. Hudson has to admit that he fell for Diane's looks since "an old dead guy" actually did the paintings, and Grams acquiesces and says they were lovely paintings, ''after'' they've been destroyed]].
* DestroyTheEvidence:
** Sammy does this with [[spoiler: the "Crocodile"'s BlackMail book after she succeeds in stealing it, leaving the latter with no hold on her or anyone else]] because she realizes that so much knowledge [[spoiler: about others' personal lives]] are too dangerous and nasty to hold.
** [[spoiler: Diane burns her father's paintings]] when they no longer serve any monetary purpose. Sammy barely manages to save [[spoiler: enough of ''Whispers'', her favorite portrait, to prove Diane's a fraud]] and she's heartbroken about what she didn't save.
* DrivingQuestion: Arguably - Sammy wants to know who her father is, and [[WordOfGod Van Draanen has stated that the series will end when she finds out.]]
** More recently, Van Draanen said on her blog that Sammy will find out who he is with in the next few books, and the series will continue for several books after that. At the time of this edit, that book and a second came out; only one more is planned.
** [[spoiler:Sammy finds out in the sixteenth book, ''Showdown in Sin City'', two before the end of the series.]]
* EnemyMine: Sammy and Officer Borsch help each other out occasionally. [[spoiler:They eventually become [[FriendlyEnemy Friendly Enemies]], and then outright friends.]]
* EurekaMoment: Again, as usual for the genre.
* EvenEvilHasStandards: Diane Reijden's brother Lance, who is a BlackSheep and a "deadbeat" is outright horrified that [[spoiler: Diane not only took credit for her father's paintings, but destroyed them via a house fire.]] In fact, [[spoiler: Diane]] doing such a thing motivates him to clean up his life and stop "running away".
* EvilRedhead: Heather, as well as her mother, though it's been suggested that they're dyeing it.
* FairPlayWhodunit
* FriendOrIdolDecision: After Casey reveals that Sammy and Marissa [[spoiler: were framed for vandalism, and that his sister Heather was responsible]], Sammy is eligible to play in the softball playoffs. She realizes, however that [[spoiler: "Snake Eyes" has kidnapped the TeenMother Lena that gave her baby to Sammy, and gives up paying ]] and gives up the game without hesitation. [[spoiler: Vice Principal Caan ends up forfeiting the big game because he doesn't trust Sammy's replacement Babs since she's associated with Heather, and puts Heather on probation.]]
* FourTemperamentEnsemble: Sammy (choleric), Marissa (phlegmatic), Holly (melancholic), Dot (sanguine).
** Later in the series, becomes more like a FiveManBand, with Sammy as TheLeader, Marissa as TheLancer, Casey as TheSmartGuy, Holly as TheBigGuy, and Billy as TheChick. Dot seems to get demoted to more of a SixthRanger type.
* HeIsNotMyBoyfriend: Sammy and Casey. No one believes her.
** [[spoiler: Eventually ends with a RelationshipUpgrade.]]
* HiddenDepths: Many, many characters.
* IKnowYouKnowIKnow: In the resolution of ''Psycho Kitty Queen,'' [[spoiler: Officer Borsch visits Sammy in her grandmother's apartment and thanks her for saving his life]]. This makes her realize that [[spoiler: he knows about her living situation but won't rat about it]], and she's okay with it given [[spoiler: no one knows two thirteen-year olds saved him from vicious gamblers.]]
* InspectorJavert: Officer Borsch, initially.
* IntergenerationalFriendship: Sammy and Hudson.
** Sammy and [[spoiler: Officer Borsch, eventually.]]
* IWasQuiteALooker: Sammy finds an old picture of her neighbor, Mrs. Graybill.
* {{Jerkass}}: Heather, all the way. [[spoiler:Until her HeelFaceTurn at the end of ''Showdown in Sin City''.]]
** Danny Urbanski, as well.
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Amazingly, Officer Borsch.
* KaleidoscopeEyes: Father Mayhew is mentioned to have them.
* KickTheDog: Heather's character is practically built upon petty maliciousness. Special mention goes to her taunting Sammy about losing her father's softball mitt in ''Sisters of Mercy.''
* KidDetective: Sammy herself, sometimes with help from her friends. She calls it "snooping".
* MaskedLuchador: El Gato in ''Psycho Kitty Queen''. [[spoiler:He's actually Borsch, undercover on his own time to infiltrate a catfighting ring.]]
* MuggingTheMonster: Heather and her GirlPosse attempt to steal a horseshoe from Sammy, taking her by surprise. Unfortunately for them, Sammy's been practicing wrestling moves . . .
* MysteryMagnet: A stranger example than others, as each mystery usually takes place within a month. Other MysteryMagnet stories aren't as regulated.
* TheNicknamer: Sammy, in regards to practically everything. She has a tendency to give people she encounters (often unflattering) nicknames before she knows their real names. If she likes you, she'll start calling you by your real name once she knows it, but if not, the nickname sticks.
* NotAllowedToGrowUp: Averted. Sammy's age progresses as the series goes on. [[spoiler:At least, until ''Psycho Kitty Queen'', when Lana reveals she lied about Sammy's age to get her into Kindergarten early. And she tells her this days before her 14th birthday, which is actually her 13th.]]
* OneSteveLimit: Cassie Kuo, a minor character from ''Sisters of Mercy'', is given the nickname "Cricket" in ''Wild Things'', apparently so as not to confuse her with Casey Acosta.
* OOCIsSeriousBusiness: Meta example. The eighteenth and final book, ''Kiss Goodbye'', is the only book not to be narrated by Sammy, it's the only one with chapter titles, and it has the highest stakes, [[spoiler:with Sammy comatose after being pushed off the fire escape and the man responsible trying to finish the job]].
* OutDamnedSpot: Happens in ''Dead Giveaway''. Luckily, it ends better than a lot of examples.
* ParentalAbandonment: Sammy's dad has vanished, and her mother has run off to Hollywood to be an actress. [[spoiler:Once her dad learns he has a daughter, he makes an effort to get back into Sammy's life, and is a major character in ''Killer Cruise''.]]
** Casey certainly believes this is the case in ''[[spoiler:Wedding Crasher]]'' when his dad Warren [[spoiler:gets a part in the same soap opera as Sammy's mom, thus forcing him to move in with his mother and sister, both of whom he hates. This causes some angst in his relationship with Sammy.]] It's also on the {{Squick}} side of things for the both of them when they find out that [[spoiler:Warren and Lana are moving in together after having dated for a while.]] However, [[spoiler:Warren and Lana's relationship doesn't last through ''Showdown in Sin City'']].
* RetiredBadass: One possible interpretation of Hudson.
* SeriousBusiness: Santa Martina takes softball very seriously, so much so that there's a softball statue in City Hall. It's rumored that the mayor bows to it every day.
* ShadowArchetype: Explicitly spelled out as Heather's relationship to Sammy, up to [[spoiler:having the same birthday.]]
* SickbedSlaying / VorpalPillow: Averted and subverted in ''Kiss Goodbye''. [[spoiler:The villain plans to murder an unconscious Sammy by smothering her with the pillow from her hospital bed, and plans on it taking three minutes (he got a time of six minutes from the web, then halved it due to Sammy being unconscious). However, he never gets those three minutes, as Sammy's friends and family are always by her side.]]
* StreetUrchin: Holly, initially.
* ThePasswordIsAlwaysSwordfish: When Sammy wants to figure out how to crack a safe in ''Sisters of Mercy'', the advice Hudson gives her is essentially this trope, but paraphrased. Winds up a ChekhovsSkill in the same book when she has to open a safe at the church.
* TogetherInDeath: Really, really creepy variation in ''Hollywood Mummy''. [[spoiler:Sammy's mother Lana, an actress, fakes an ID so she can claim to be 25. Unfortunately, her new birthdate is the day her boss's wife died. He thinks Lana is the reincarnation of his wife, and he tries to kill both of them so they can be reincarnated together.]]
* TookALevelInKindness: Officer Borsch, in two separate books. Sammy as a Christmas present provides proof that [[spoiler: one cop heckling him is a DirtyCop]] and [[spoiler: saves his life in ''The Psycho Kitty Queen'']].
* VillainousBreakdown: In the later books, this happens to Heather. She still hasn't really recovered from it. [[spoiler:It doesn't help that Sammy saved her from drowning, either.]]
* WellDoneSonGuy: Heather Acosta - when Sammy realizes this, it forces her to admit that they're NotSoDifferent.
* WhamEpisode: ''Showdown in Sin City''. [[spoiler: Grams and Hudson get married, Marissa's family falls apart and decides to move away from Santa Martina, Sammy and Heather team up and overcome their mutual hatred, and Sammy's father's identity is revealed.]]
* WillTheyOrWontThey: Grams and Hudson danced around this for most of the series. [[spoiler: Eventually, they did.]]
** Sammy and Casey, [[spoiler: though it was less WillTheyOrWontThey and more How Long Until They Do.]]
----