Archive for the 'Mystery' Category



The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Genre:  Mystery Thriller

# of Pages: 308

Anne and Marco were horrified to come home and find their infant daughter missing from her crib.  When the police arrive they are surprised to learn that the couple had left their daughter alone while they went to a birthday party next door.  Anne and Marco had fought about what to do when the sitter canceled last minute, but Marco had argued that they would take the baby monitor and check on their baby every half hour.  Anne eventually relented since their neighbor, Cynthia, had made it very clear that Baby Cora was not invited.  They checked on Cora every half hour until after midnight, but when they eventually returned home they discovered the front door open and their baby gone.  Who could’ve known exactly when to strike? Could it be someone they know?  Will the kidnappers want a ransom?

This mystery thriller grabs the reader right from the beginning because Anne and Marco are so easy to identify with.  What happened to them appears to be so terrible and unexpected yet eventually the pieces start fitting together and it becomes obvious that they both have secrets.  Fans of The Girl on the Train and Harlan Coben novels will enjoy this exciting tale right until the end.

Forever, Again by Victoria Laurie

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  360

When Lily Bennett moves with her mother to  a new town before her junior year of high school she tries to remain optimistic, but in reality her mother is fleeing her cheating husband and his pregnant girlfriend and Lily is fleeing her cheating father and the boyfriend who cheated on her with her best friend.  They are both looking for fresh starts and unfortunately, that involves living on her wealthy grandmother’s property.  Ever since she was a child Lily has had a bizarre recurring dream where she’s running on a big field that has caught fire and she approaches a teenage boy’s body in the middle of it.  It has scared her since she was little, but normally she only has this dream a few times a year.  Since she moved she has had this dream every single night and it’s beginning to take a toll.

Amber was a teen living in the same town Lily just moved to in the 1980s.  Her boyfriend, Spence, was murdered on the football field of their school and the police investigator believed that Amber committed the murder.  Four days later Amber was stabbed to death and it was ruled a suicide.  Could Amber be trying to send Lily a message all of these years later about what really happened to her and Spence?  What is Lily’s connection to Amber’s death?

Fans of Victoria Laurie’s mystery When will enjoy this title as well.  It has many great plot twists, sinister characters, and red herrings.  The idea that Lily could be the reincarnation of Amber is a unique twist you do not often see in YA mystery novels.  The book itself moves quickly and will keep even reluctant readers engaged.

The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

fixer

Genre:  Realistic fiction/mystery

# of Pages:  372 p.

Tess has lived with her grandfather ever since her parents died in a car accident when she was small.  Her older sister, Ivy, went away to college and never really came back so Tess knew things were about to unravel when Ivy showed up at her grandfather’s ranch.  Despite her best efforts, Tess could no longer hide her grandfather’s dementia from the world and Ivy had come to put him in a treatment center while Tess was forced to pack her bags and come to D.C. to live with the sister she hardly knew.  Only after she gets to D.C. does she realize what her sister actually does for a living:  she’s a fixer for wealthy and powerful people who have serious problems. Tess is expected to be a fixer like her sister when she starts her new school by the children of wealthy and powerful people who attend, but Tess is not interested in following after her sister’s example.  Then, a supreme court justice suddenly dies and a girl at her school confides to Tess that she does not think it was an accident.  Can Tess find out what’s really going on in D.C. without alerting her sister or anyone involved?  Will Tell and Ivy ever mend their relationship?

This is a fun novel for mystery or spy fans (fans of Ally Carter will enjoy this title).  The characters are fun and getting more developed all the time and no doubt will continue to do so as the series continues.  The mystery was exciting and provided a satisfying ending.  The idea of “fixers” has only started getting discussed in the last five years or so and it’s fun to see a young adult series focused around such an interesting career.

Crazy Dangerous by Andrew Klavan

crazy dangerous

Genre:  Mystery

328 p.

2016-17 Iowa High School Award Winner

Sam Hopkins is the son of a preacher so he is often not treated the same as other kids, but he is not immune to bullies either and on one particular day while running he inadvertently draws the attention of three of the biggest bullies in school.  He refuses to back down to them and ends up joining their gang for a short while and they teach him how to steal cars.  Eventually he comes to his senses and realizes that he could get himself into real danger, but just as he’s telling them he won’t steal actual cars with them he sees them pick on Jennifer, who is an unusual girl in school who often speaks of demons and other strange things.  The bullies are about to go after her when Sam steps in and allows her to escape while he himself takes a terrible beating.  Afterward, everyone praises him for saving “poor, crazy” Jennifer and Sam begins to realize that all of  her “premonitions” might in fact be real.  Can he convince anyone that she might really be telling the truth about her visions?  Will he continue to get into more trouble if he keeps staying involved with her?

This story is difficult to describe without giving the heart of the story away.  Sam is confused by Jennifer and her condition, which makes the reader confused as well.  Meanwhile, everything that happens to Sam does eventually come together to make an interesting and complete story, but for a long time several of the pieces do not seem to go together at all.  Sam is a well crafted, complex character who is easy to identify with even if the reader has nothing in common with him.  For those who stick with the story past the beginning they will be pleasantly surprised by the action and fast paced resolution.

Free to Fall by Lauren Miller

free to fall

# of Pages:  473

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Mystery

RAC:  Yes

Iowa High School Award Winner 2016

Rory is thrilled when she gets accepted into the prestigious Theden Academy, an all expense paid prep school with an excellent reputation.  Shortly before she leaves, she learns that her mother, who died in childbirth, also attended Theden and left her a symbolic necklace.  This story is set in the future where everyone is dependent on their smart phones and uses an app called Lux that makes literally every decision for them from what to major in to what to eat for breakfast.  As Rory settles in she meets a young barista at a nearby coffee shop and he helps her see what a disadvantage it is to always have an app make decisions for you.  She begins using Lux less and less and in the process notices more around her, including the shady practices of her new school.  Is someone out to get her?  What really happened to her mother and did she actually die during childbirth?

This is a fun, fast paced story that fans of futuristic fiction will enjoy.  The story is detailed and has many revelations that unfold in a timely way.  The characters are all well developed and it’s easy for the reader to see each of their motivations.  Despite there being quite a market for futuristic dystopian-esque books this one is unique enough to stand out and will keep readers engaged.

Jillian Cade: Fake paranormal investigator by Jen Klein

 


jillian cade

Genre:  Mystery/Fantasy

# of pages:  277

RAC:  Yes

Jillian does not believe in paranormal activity, but yet she works running her father’s paranormal investigation firm ever since he left her to fend for herself and her dying mother.  She tells clients what they want to hear in order to earn money to pay the electric bill, but that does not stop her from judging those who do believe in the paranormal.  When a high school classmate offers to pay big money for her to find her missing boyfriend, Jillian jumps at the chance until the mysterious new student, Sky, inserts himself into the investigation claiming that there is supernatural activity at work here.  As Jillian and Sky work the case she faces the possibility that supernatural occurrences might actually exist.

Fans of mysteries and fantasy will enjoy this light, fun story about a teenage girl trying to do it all.  There is a lot about Jillian’s backstory that has not been uncovered yet, including a mysterious obituary she finds of herself dated six months in the future listing a sister among her family whom she’s never heard of.  There’s plenty more stories Jillian can and probably will tell in future volumes.

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

i hunt killers

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  360

2016 Iowa High School Award winner

RAC:  yes

Jazz is the only son of a notorious serial killer named Billy.  Billy reportedly murdered over 200 people and Jazz is struggling with the doubts that he could end up just like him.  He does not want to become a killer, but he worries it’s already inside him waiting to come out.  When he hears of a murder in his small town he goes to the scene to help out since he “knows how serial killers work.”  The police reject his help, but eventually come back to him when it’s discovered this new murder is mimicking one of Billy’s early murders.  Who would be recreating his father’s grisly murders and why?  Can Jazz help the police before more people lose their lives?  Can Jazz prove to everyone and even himself that he is not going to follow in his father’s footsteps?

Fans of mystery books will enjoy this title because it has a good amount of plot twists, suspense, and colorful characters.  Jazz is truly battling with himself because he will always be the son of the infamous Billy Dent and he needs to figure out what that means for the rest of his life.  He does not want to be like his father, but having been raised by him he sometimes does not see life situations the same way that others do.  Luckily, he has a small but powerful support system that is helping him realize that he is capable of valuing human life.  There is a bit of gore in this title, but nothing worse than an episode of CSI or Criminal Minds.

Lock & Mori by Heather W. Petty

lock and mori

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  248

RAC: Yes

Miss James “Mori” Moriarty has been living a tough existence since her mother died several months before.  Her father has become a heavy drinker and often takes his frustrations out physically on her and her three brothers.  She knows she needs to do something to protect her brothers but she isn’t sure what at this time.  Meanwhile, she becomes friendly with a strange boy at her school, Sherlock Holmes.  They encounter a murder in the nearby park and are shocked to see the police are severely inept and make terrible and lazy assumptions.  They decide to investigate on their own in order to find the true killer and are horrified to discover this was merely one amongst several similar murders.  There is a serial killer out there the police aren’t even looking for!  Can Mori find the killer and save her family from an increasingly bad home life?

This is a fun mystery story for fans of mystery fiction and TV shows.  Sherlock Holmes is impressive in his deductions and observations as always and it’s refreshing to see a different take on the character of Moriarty.  There is a bit of violence in it and Mori’s father is definitely a force to contend with in her life, but Lock and Mori try very hard to never lose hope that they can in fact prevail as long as their intentions and resolve are strong enough.

The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong

masked truth

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  340

RAC:  Yes

Riley witnessed the couple she was babysitting for get murdered and has never been the same since.  She blames herself for not doing more to help them.  She has tried multiple counselors and the latest one has suggested she come to a weekend-long retreat with other troubled teens.  They are not there very long, however, when masked men come in and declare they are holding them hostage until a wealthy teen’s dad pays a hefty ransom for them.  Things begin to go wrong almost immediately and it quickly becomes obvious that they may not leave alive. Riley is now getting her chance to see if she were in a life threatening situation again if she would run or stand and fight.

Fans of mystery thrillers will enjoy this title because it is a lot more than it first appears.  The beginning even lags a bit as they struggle to find a way to defeat their kidnappers, but then things take a turn when everything Riley thought was happening is completely turned on its head.  For the most part any inconsistencies in the motivations of the characters are explained away and the resolution is exciting and captivating.  Fans of mystery books and shows should check out this title.

The Cipher by John C. Ford

cipher

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  374

RAC:  Yes

Robert “Smiles” Smylie is the son of a very wealthy and important man who began a computer software company when Smiles was a baby.  Smiles has always felt like a disappointment to his father since he is not a math genius.  His mother ran out on him when he was a baby and his loving stepmother died suddenly in a car accident shortly before the story begins.  He is struggling to find his place when his quiet neighbor, Ben, asks for his help getting to an encryption conference.  Once there, Ben cracks a previously thought to be uncrackable code that if sold could breach the top secrets of every organization while also bankrupting his father’s company.  Ben creates an elaborate plan to protect the code but still get him and Ben some of the profits from discovering such a code.  Is this his shot at greatness?  Can he and Ben pull off such a big plan and get away with it?

This title reads like a heist movie in that there are lots of aspects to their plan and there are many players in the game who have plans of their own.  Smiles learns a lot about his dad’s past and the truth about the beginning of his company and why his mother really left him.  There are many surprises and plot twists, but the story definitely has some slower moments as well.  Recommended for fans of heist movies.

Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano

nearly gone

Genre:  Mystery/Suspense

# of Pages:  386

RAC:  Yes

Nearly lives in a crappy trailer with her mother who works as an exotic dancer.  She is trying desperately to keep her head down, work hard, and hopefully earn a special science scholarship.  She reads the missed connections ads every Friday in the hopes of finding a message from her father who abandoned her years ago.  Nearly has an unusual talent where she can feel what people are feeling simply by touching them, so she tries not to touch anyone ever.  One day she sees a mysterious ad in the missed connections section and doesn’t think much of it until a cheerleader, whom Nearly tutored,  from her school is taken and attacked at an away basketball game.  After the attack, the clues in the ad suddenly make sense.  She goes to the police, but they do not believe her story and instead decide to follow her and see if she had anything to do with the attack.  Each week a new ad with clues come out and each week there is a new attack of someone that Nearly tutors.  Can she find who is doing this before it is too late?  Who could be capable of such crimes and what do the numbers written on the bodies mean?

This mystery combines several elements to make a fairly complicated story.  There are many characters and sometimes they can be a bit confusing, but in the end they are all fairly memorable.  Nearly has many things going on besides the attacks in her life which makes it unclear which part of her life is actually behind trying to frame her for these terrible crimes.  Most readers will not put together the final resolution, but the pieces do indeed fit together.   Mystery fans will be satisfied.

When by Victoria Laurie

when

Genre:  Mystery/Suspense

# of Pages:  327

RAC:  Yes

Maddie has been able to see numbers on everyone’s foreheads since she was a little girl, but it isn’t until her father dies suddenly that she realizes what they are:  deathdates.  After her father’s death her mother struggles with sobriety and stability and Maddie must become the caretaker and even the breadwinner when her mother strongly encourages her to give “readings” in which she tells people their death dates for money.  Maddie hates doing this because it often causes pain, but she does not know how else to help her mother cope.  After a reading with a wealthy woman asking about her sick daughter, Maddie is horrified to have to tell her that it is in fact the woman’s young son who has a quickly approaching death date.  The woman does not take Maddie’s advice and feels she is threatening her young son.  Maddie’s best friend even calls to warn her to keep a close eye on him in the hopes that his death date can change.  Instead, Maddie and her best friend become prime suspects when that little boy goes missing after school one day.  Things continue to get worse for Maddie and her best friend as more people linked to Maddie start disappearing.  Is someone trying to frame her?  Could it be someone who is close to her and knows what she can do?  How can she stop anyone else from dying?

This premise is executed really well as you see how problematic and troubling this gift has been for Maddie and her family.  Her uncle, a big shot attorney, tries his best to keep her out of jail for the suspicious disappearances that she seems to be predicting, but the evidence just keeps mounting against her.  The reader cannot help but feel connected to Maddie and feels her fear as what is left of her meager world comes crashing down around her.  The mystery itself comes to a very satisfying conclusion that will leave readers wanting more.  Recommended for fans of mystery.

 

All Fall Down by Ally Carter

all fall down

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  310

RAC:  Yes

Grace knows she saw a man with a scar on his face standing over her mother’s dead body three years ago.  Yet, everyone tells her that her mom died of an accidental fire in her antique shop.  For three years, Grace has seen countless doctors and retold her story to many well meaning people who think she’s simply going crazy from the trauma of losing her mother.  Grace’s father has been stationed overseas and so she is forced to go live with her grandfather where he works as the U.S. ambassador to the tiny country, Adria.  Returning to her mother’s childhood home brings back many feelings and fears for Grace, none of which are helped when she sees the man with the scar she saw that fateful night.  Will anyone believe her story now?  Can she prove her mother’s death wasn’t an accident and prove her sanity?

Fans of Ally Carter books will like this new series as well.  It’s fun, unique, and has some clever plot twists.  The characters are interesting, but will get more engaging with each installment.  Grace’s post traumatic stress is described vividly and helps the reader understand why everyone around her feels she’s an unreliable witness.  Recommended to readers looking for a quick read.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

we were liars

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  225

RAC:  Yes

Cady, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat called themselves the liars every summer they spent together on the elite Sinclair island.  The Sinclair family was wealthy, beautiful, and envied everywhere they went.  Cady, the narrator, explains how her grandparents built a house for all three of their daughters on this island so that they could all spend every summer together.  Cady, Mirren, and Johnny were cousins, while Gat was the nephew of their aunt’s boyfriend.  Two years ago something terrible happened that no one will tell Cady about.  All she knows is that she was found in her underwear on the beach with no memory of how she came to be there or what happened.  Her family has decided to shield her from whatever harsh truth she has chosen to block out and even refused to let her come to the island the following summer.  When she finally returns the summer of her 18th year she finally gets to see all of her fellow liars again and they seem exactly the same, but even they won’t tell her what happened that fateful night when everything went black for Cady.  How can she learn the truth if no one will help her?  What could have happened that would cause all of this chaos?

Cady is a very unique character who is desperately trying to find out what happened to her two full years ago that her mind simply can’t handle.  The ending of this one is amazing in that not only does it completely fit with the rest of the story, but no one will see it coming.  The characters are well developed and all help Cady remember that traumatic day, but ultimately it’s Cady who needs to put the pieces together.  Recommended for everyone, but especially reluctant readers.

Veronica Mars Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

veronica mars

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  340

RAC:  Yes

In this sequel, Veronica learns of a case in which a young girl was last seen in the Neptune Grand Hotel and then turned up beaten almost to death and left in an abandoned field.  No one knows how she was taken from the hotel since she was not spotted on any of the security cameras.  The girl claims to have no knowledge of what happened to her.  Meanwhile, Eli Weevil Navarro is on trial for allegedly attacking Mrs. Kane with a gun when her car stalled.  He denies this and says the gun was planted on him by the police.  Logan Echolls is supposed to be on shore leave for several months, but Veronica always wonders when he’s going to be called to active duty again.  Can Veronica juggle all of these issues and still aim to end the corruption that has plagued Neptune for a long time?

This sequel is very engaging for readers familiar with the TV series.  Many references are made to the Manning family which featured heavily in the early seasons of the show.  The mystery itself is very interesting and difficult to predict, which is what all mystery lovers want to see.  Mixed in with all of this drama Veronica handles several personal issues, including dealing with her boyfriend and father over relationship expectations.  A fun, light read that any vacationer should have!


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