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Spy Goddess: Live and Let Shop

Book 1 in the Spy Goddess Series

A book for Teens

After running into trouble with the law, a teenager with an attitude is sent to a boarding school with a big secret

Even though it wasn’t Rachel’s idea to steal the car, she was happy to go along for the ride. But when her so-called friends bolt as soon as the cops show up, they leave Rachel to take the rap. In court, the judge takes pity on the Beverly Hills bad girl, and offers her a choice: thirty days in juvie, or a year at Blackthorn Academy. Rachel chooses the boarding school. After all, how bad can it be?

Cut into the side of a Pennsylvania mountain, Blackthorn is weirder than Rachel could have ever imagined. The students take tae kwon do instead of gym, there are guardhouses on the edge of campus, and there’s a secret Top Floor that only certain students are allowed to access. Despite Blackthorn’s mysteries, Rachel is starting to fit in.  She likes her roommate and her classmates, and even the all-knowing headmaster, Mr. Kim. But when Mr. Kim disappears, Rachel learns a secret about Blackthorn Academy—and herself—that will change her life forever.

Spy Goddess: Live and Let Shop

Book 1 in the Spy Goddess Series


The Idea for Spy Goddess

The idea for Spy Goddess came to me one day when I saw a commercial on television about a school you could attend to become a private investigator. I thought it was interesting that you could go to PI HIGH as I immediately dubbed it, and the idea kicked around in my brain for a little while. I had many ideas for novels before I wrote Spy Goddess but no one ever told me that you couldn’t get by with just a plot or setting. No, a novel has to have many different parts like characters, words, punctuation and other stuff. I had none of those things yet.

Then one day this character Rachel Buchanan appeared to me in my imagination. I saw her immediately: what she looked and sounded like, what her background was and her voice came to me like a gust of wind. I decided that I was going to take Rachel and send her to this school and see what happened. Only instead of a Private Investigator school I made it a school for spies because… well… why not? I like spies.

After that it was like a movie screen turned on in my head and I just wrote down what I saw. Sometimes I couldn’t get the words out fast enough. I love this character and I can’t wait to write more of her adventures.


[A] fast-paced face-off against evil.


An entertaining and action packed mystery. Blackthorn (Academy) will rank up with Hogwarts as the coolest school to attend, and young readers will enjoy returning to it in the next book.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

An entertaining page-turner. Spradin captures the perfect teenage voice in his protagonist; she is more than just a spoiled fashion-conscious teen from Beverly Hills—she is the Spy Goddess—witty and smart with an edge. Overall, this is an intelligent, exciting mystery that will have broad appeal.

School Library Journal

Teens who like reading to escape reality will have fun with this one!

The Detroit Free Press


Each spring, Mystery Writers of America present the Edgar Awards, widely acknowledged to be the most prestigious awards in the genre. Spy Goddess was nominated for Best Young Adult Mystery.

Each year, the New York Public Library staff shared the best titles for teens in an annual list called Books for the Teen Age. Spy Goddess was named to that list in 2006.

Each year, the American Library Association’s Popular Paperbacks committee creates lists of books to encourage young adults to read for pleasure. Spy Goddess was included on their list of fiction and nonfiction about those who operate within the world of shadow.

The purpose of the Georgia State Book Award is to foster a love of reading in the children of Georgia, and to introduce them to books of literary excellence. Spy Goddess was a nominee for the award for the 2006-07 school year.

Enjoy an Excerpt

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The End of My Life As I Knew It.

The cop car I rode in the night I got arrested was really clean.

Spotless, almost. So was the station house. It wasn’t like the police stations you see on TV where there are druggies and low-life’s everywhere you look and everything is total chaos. It was pretty quiet, very neat, and there didn’t seem to be much going on. Reminded me of the locker room at Dad’s country club. I guess there’s not a lot of serious crime in Beverly Hills. Except for me of course, Rachel Buchanan, one girl crime wave.

We got caught that night because Boozer made an illegal left turn in the car he’d boosted. Unluckily for us, a cop happened to be driving at exactly the wrong moment. So much of life is just timing.

Boozer is so smooth, he probably could have talked his way out of it, but instead he panicked and took off. So there we were in a high-speed chase. The weird thing was, I thought it was funny. For some reason, when I get scared or nervous or apparently in a high-speed chase I start to laugh. Maybe I’m just a psycho. I’ll get on a roller coaster at Magic Mountain with a drop straight down, and while everyone is screaming at the top of his or her lungs, I’m sitting there laughing like an idiot. It’s this really weird nervous laugh that I can’t stop. I wonder what a shrink would say about that?

Anyway, so Boozer, Jamie and Grego, were scared and screaming the whole time the cop was chasing us, and when Boozer ran the car up on to lawn, they piled out right away and took off running. I was laughing so hard in the back seat that I couldn’t move, and that’s when I ended up getting busted.

The cop ordered me out of the car and asked me what I thought was so funny? Stealing a car and driving it up on somebody’s lawn? And who were my friends and where did they go? And I was in a lot of trouble Missy, make no mistake about it. And blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I couldn’t stop laughing so he hustled me into the back seat and off we went to the station.

I was sitting on a bench outside the interview room, where a detective named Daniels had been asking me all kinds of questions about who took the car. He kept saying and I’d better tell them what they wanted to know or I’ll be in worse trouble. I told him to stuff it because there’s no way I was telling the cops who I was with. So he called my parents and invited them down to spend a little quality time with me at the Beverly Hills PD.

It took about an hour for Dad to show up, of course with the ever-present cell phone glued to his ear. Probably calling Marvin. Marvin is his attorney. Check that. Marvin is more than Dad’s attorney. He’s like my Dad’s most favorite person ever. Dad looks at Marvin and he just sees dollar signs. He just loves Marvin who is quite possibly the most boring human being on the face of the earth. No sign of Mom. Probably at home with her coffee cup full of “medicine.” I bet she was already working the phones in the neighborhood, trying to find out if word had spread about her daughter the criminal, and wondering how she was going to keep this out of the Beverly Hills Gazette.

“Hi Charles! Always nice to see you,” I said. “Mom busy?”

He didn’t even stop to ask if I was okay. He skipped right to the yelling part.

“What were you thinking stealing a car!” he said.

“I didn’t steal anything. I…” As usual he didn’t let me finish.

“Do you have any idea what kind of trouble this can get you into? Do you realize what you’ve put us through?” First of all he interrupted me and secondly when he said ‘us’ I wasn’t sure if he was referring to him and Mom or him and Marvin. Any time he spent having to deal with me, meant less opportunity to make even more zillions of dollars.

“What do you have to say for yourself?” he said.

“I didn’t do anything,” I said. “I was just out with some friends.”

“You mean that bunch of juvenile delinquents?”

“Ouch, Dad, I mean really, that hurts.”

“You think this is funny?” He was getting angrier.

“Well, this part not so much, but the high-speed chase had its moments though.”

“You think you’ve got it all figured out don’t you?” he said.

“This isn’t the first little scrape you’ve been in. Shoplifting, vandalism, and now you’ve graduated to Grand Theft Auto and that’s a felony. You realize you’ll have to appear before a juvenile court judge again?”

“Juvenile court! Again? That’ll be great.” I said. “Maybe you and mom can both make it this time. We’ll pack a lunch and make a day of it!”

“Keep cracking wise, Rachel. You seem to think it’s all a great big joke. Well if you won’t cooperate with the police that’s your problem. No Marvin, no other attorney’s, no help from us. You’re on your own.”

end of excerpt

Spy Goddess: Live and Let Shop

by Michael P. Spradlin

is available in the following formats:

Jan 24, 2006

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