Archive for the 'Mystery' Category



The Agency: a spy in the house by Y.S. Lee

a spy in the house

Genre:  Mystery/Historical Fiction

# of Pages:  335

RAC:  Yes

This title was recently named to the Iowa High School Award Winners for 2013-2014.  The first in this series, Mary is rescued from a death sentence for stealing in 1853 by a woman who runs a special school for young girls.  After many years of schooling, Mary is taken into a special program designed to turn young women into spies.  Her first assignment is to be the paid companion of a wealthy teenage girl who is ungrateful for the company at best.  As Mary enters the house she is supposed to keep her ears open for information about the family business and whether or not they are really suffering from as many lost ships as they claim, but in the end she overhears much more than that.  She also meets another spy trying to dig up information on this family.  Will he be a threat or an ally?  Can Mary perfect her spying skills in order to become a permanent fixture in this alliance?

Fans of historical fiction will enjoy this title because it is set in a unique time period while also including intrigue and mystery.  The story moves fairly quickly and the ending is exciting.  The final revelation of who is behind the lost ships is surprising, but also a bit confusing in the details for some young readers.  Mary’s background is touched on, but readers will look for more to be revealed in the future sequels.

Suspect by Robert Crais

suspect

Genre:  Mystery/Suspense

# of Pages:  309

RAC Book:  Yes

Scott James is an LAPD cop who got caught in the middle of a shoot out on a deserted street in the middle of the night.  His partner was killed and he was badly injured and left for dead.  Despite being encouraged to take a medical discharge, Scott pushes to remain in the department and gets moved to the K9 unit.  The dog he chooses, Maggie, was in a terrible shootout as well in Iraq in which her carrier was killed and she was injured trying to protect him.  They both have some post traumatic stress and scar tissue to work with.  Scott learns some new cops have taken over his case and they want to discuss it with him.  Can he finally get to the bottom of what happened?  Will he ever avenge his partner and come to grips with the guilt he has for surviving when she didn’t?  Will Maggie ever trust a new carrier?

Fans of mystery writers such as Harlan Coben will enjoy this title.  It moves quickly and has a lot of suspense and drama. The actual ending seems a bit quick, but the resolution is satisfying.  The progression of details keeps the reader interested and the inclusion of the dog to the case helps Scott more than once.  Recommended for mystery fans.

Dark Souls by Paula Morris

dark souls

Genre:  Fantasy/Mystery

# of Pages:  292

RAC:  Yes

Miranda and her brother, Rob, are in a terrible car accident that kills Miranda’s best friend.  After the fact, Rob has some serious fears about riding in cars and claustrophobia, while Miranda is mourning her friend.  Her parents have professional reasons for visiting York, England and decide it is a perfect time for the family to get away.  Upon arrival, Miranda realizes she can now see ghosts, but is most intrigued by the one across the street that she can see in the attic of a boarded up house.    She meets a troubled young man, Nick, who can also see ghosts and invites her to some mysterious places in order to interact with them.    The more time she spends with Nick the more she suspects he is planning something big and mysterious.   Can she save him from making a terrible mistake that will change his entire future?

This story includes a lot of folklore about York which ties into the story well.  The characters are well developed, especially Miranda’s family, despite being in the story rather infrequently.  The mystery moves a tad slow at the beginning, but eventually takes off and it’s obvious that the groundwork for solving it has been laid from the beginning.  Fans of ghost and/or mystery stories will enjoy this title.

Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Genre:  Suspense/Mystery

# of Pages:  294

RAC:  Yes

This take on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, features 10 teenagers who were lured to a weekend house on an island for a party that they find out was never happening.  Instead, they start getting killed off one by one in extremely odd fashion.  Meg accompanied her friend, Minnie, to the party even thought she had some reservations to begin with.  She is also the only one who tries to think of constructive ways to get off of this island.  All of her ideas are thwarted, however.  There is no power, Internet, phone service, radios, or any way to contact the outside world.  They have ascertained they are indeed alone on the island which means the killer is among them.  How can they survive if they do not even know who or what the threat is?

This mystery is still a lot of fun even with the updated characters.  They all have past issues that all teen readers can relate to and in most cases those issues contribute to why they are on this island.  There are some plot revelations that are fairly predictable, but the suspense and overall pacing of the story will keep readers interested all the way until the very end.  A fun mystery story.

Accidental Mobster by M.M. Cox

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  247

RAC Book:  Yes

Danny Higgins is forced out of his home when a domestic dispute between his parents ends badly.  Surprisingly a man he’s never met before, Gino, comes to rescue him from foster life claiming to be his godfather.  Gino lives a very extravagant lifestyle with his wife and two kids, but welcomes Danny wholeheartedly.  As Danny begins to get used to this life that is so different from where he came from, he learns that his godfather has ties to the mob.  He cares about his godfather and wants to protect him, but he cannot deny that Gino has made some terrible choices in his past.  Plus, he is being blackmailed from more than one person and he has to figure out how to protect himself from all the people who want to hurt him and his new family.  Is there a way to protect Gino and his family without having to give up his new happy life?

This story is quite engaging.  Danny is a likable character from a tough background who finds himself in happy new surroundings.  Of course he doesn’t stay happy for long as he struggles to find ways to save his reputation and protect his adopted family from those who wish to tear them down.  Danny is very clever and often comes up with elaborate plans in order to get what he wants.  This is refreshing because many characters simply let things happen to them and Danny is very proactive.   High school boys will especially enjoy the story because it has a little espionage and a lot of action that they tend to enjoy.  A very fun read.

Variant by Robison E. Wells

Genre:  Mystery/Suspense

# of Pages:  376

RAC Book:  Yes

Benson is a foster kid who has been passed from one home to another for years.  He finds information about a boarding school online and applies for a scholarship.  He hopes to find a home for the rest of his high school life so that he does not have to face being the new kid anymore.  When he arrives at his new school, Benson is not as excited as he thought he would be.  The entire school is covered in electrified barbed wire and security cameras.  There are no actual adults in the school and all the kids are responsible for doing everything, such as teach and cook meals.  The kids have broken into three gangs to try and survive, but Benson is not willing to accept that there is no way out, despite the insistence that anyone who tries to escape never returns.  Can Benson find a way out?  Can he handle the answers he finds along the way about the truth behind the school?

Variant is engaging from the second Benson arrives at the school.  There are so many factors involved in the make up of the school that it becomes almost impossible to ascertain why these students are being held captive there.  The author adds an interesting twist about halfway through the book that makes it even harder to determine what the purpose of the school is.  There are many characters, but they are described in a way that makes it easy to understand why they are responding to life in the school this way.  Fans of the Maze Runner series will love this storyline.

You Have Seven Messages by Stewart Lewis

Image

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  289

RAC:  Yes

     Luna and her family are struggling to deal with the unexpected death of her mother.  A year after she was hit and killed by a taxi, Luna goes to her mother’s studio and finds her cell phone with seven unheard messages.  As Luna slowly listens to the messages she begins to learn things she never suspected about her mother.  Could it be possible that her mother’s death was not an accident?  Is there information her father is not sharing with her?

     The book lives up to its title in that there is information to be learned from the seven messages, but Luna does not linger too long on them and instead moves on to finding out more.  The relationship with her neighbor seems a bit tiresome at times, but Luna’s relationship with her father and brother are rich and help establish their home life before their mother’s death.  The ending is satisfying, but there is no surprise that the reader won’t predict early on.  Fans of Lipstick Apology will enjoy this title.

The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  323

RAC Book:  Yes

Hope has a tough home life, but she never fails to look after her mute, autistic brother, Jeremy.  Her life turns upside down when Jeremy is accused of murdering the high school baseball coach with his bat.  She has T.J., her best friend, and Chase, the sheriff’s son she secretly has a crush on, to help her prove Jeremy’s innocence.  The evidence against Jeremy is overwhelming and he is not speaking to help explain what happened. Meanwhile, their neglectful mother obviously believes her son is guilty.   Can Hope prove her brother is innocent without pushing everyone away? Can she come to terms with the situation if he is in fact guilty?

This mystery has many great elements that will keep readers interested. First of all, there are many surprising plot developments revealed as Hope investigates what happened that fateful morning. The empty jars Jeremy collects provide a unique and interesting way of understanding Jeremy and of helping Hope learn what really happened to the coach. There are also many great characters with multiple dimensions and motivations including Jeremy’s lawyer, Chase, TJ, and Jeremy.   The truth is in front of the reader the whole time, but Hope has to put the pieces together. Overall, a good mystery.

Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  294

RAC Book:  Yes

Cammie Morgan is back in this Gallagher Girls book and this time she has no memory of where she spent her summer. She wakes up in a remote convent and must find her way back to her family and friends who have been looking for her for months. As Cammie begins to piece together what happened to her she realizes that she may have chosen to forget what she learned because the truth was too hard to deal with. Will she ever get answers as to why the Order is chasing her? Will she ever find out what happened to her father?

Cammie does learn some answers in this book, but these are revealed to her along with the reader as she retraces her steps. It is fun for the reader to learn Cammie’s past along with her. The characters all seem to develop further in this book, which is impressive because it is not terribly long. There are also a few fun surprises that fans of the series will love.

Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  377

RAC Book:  Yes

Tansy moves around a lot with her mother and grandfather because her mother is a horror author who needs to feel inspired by her surroundings.  This time they are headed to a small town in Texas where her grandfather grew up.  Her mother even rented out a house that is believed to be haunted by the ghost of a seventeen-year-old boy who committed suicide on the premises many years before.  Tansy does not get too wrapped up in these legends because she is used to it with her mother’s stories, but she does notice a few odd things at this new house.  Her suspicions are further heightened when she looks through the lens of her camera and sees a teenage boy staring back at her.  Can she find out what happened to him all those years ago?  Can she find acceptance in a town that never has newcomers?

Mystery readers will enjoy the intrigue of this ghost tale.  The way Tansy is able to interact with the ghost is very interesting and unique compared to other similar stories.  Some of the details will feel obvious to readers, but they will still find the delivery of the clues captivating.  Tansy’s feelings about moving and insecurities about starting a new school will resonate with other teenagers.  Overall, a very exciting mystery read.

Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson

Genre:  Fantasy/Mystery

# of Pages:  306

RAC:  Yes

Alison wakes up in a psychiatric facility with no memory of how she got there.  She has always had the special ability to see colors and taste words, but her mother always told her to hide this for fear of mental illness.  A new doctor tells Alison he believes she has synesthesia, which means she has a heightened sense of all five senses and is considered a real medical condition.  She learns she confessed to killing a friend, but the body has not been recovered and she has no recollection of actually killing her.  As her new doctor tries to help her, Alison comes to find out there is a lot she does not know about him.  Can she ever find out what happened to her friend?  Can she ever prove she is not a danger to society so that she can be free again?

The beginning of this story grabs the reader right from page one.  The story takes many unexpected twists and turns and the eventual explanation of what happened to Alison’s friend will take many readers by surprise.  The synesthesia is an unusual condition that will intrigue readers since it is a real condition that does not signify mental illness.  Fans of mystery, fantasy, and realistic fiction will all find themselves engrossed in this captivating story.

Forgotten by Cat Patrick

Genre:  Romance/Realistic Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  288

RAC Book:  Yes

London suffered a traumatic incident when she was a child and as a result lost her long term memory.  She must keep notes of everything because when she goes to sleep her memory is erased and she forgets everything when she wakes up.  She does have “flashforwards” that allow her to retrieve memories from the future.  She meets a new boy at school and immediately feels a connection, but she has no memory of him in her future.  London begins having one recurring vision that terrifies her, especially when she realizes it is actually a memory from her past and not her future.  In order to understand her future she must face the past that was so painful her parents decided not to remind her once she had lost her memory.  Meanwhile, she must decide if she can trust this new boy or if he is just going to hurt her when he learns the truth about her memory issues.

Stories with characters blocking out painful memories is not new, but this story definitely puts a new twist on it.  The reader gets to put the pieces together right along with London to find out what happened to her that caused her memory to rewire itself and also as the clues slowly come out regarding London’s mysterious vision.  The story has many twists and turns and more overall character development than it first appears.  Recommended for mystery or reluctant readers.

Maximum Security by Robert Muchamore

Genre:  Mystery/Spy

# of Pages:  302

RAC Book:  Yes

In this third installment of the CHERUB series, James is sent undercover into a prison to befriend a young murderer who has a famous weapons dealer for a mother.  The idea is that James and another agent will break the unsuspecting inmate out of jail in exchange for fake ID’s from his mother after they break out.  The FBI have been chasing this weapons dealer for decades and haven’t even seen a picture of her for years.  James never backs down from a challenge, but life in prison is nothing like he’s ever experienced before.  Can he keep it together to pull off this very difficult mission?

Fans of this series will not be disappointed in this third book.  This is James’s most difficult mission yet and there are several times where he almost gets killed.  His sister, Lauren, is with him on the mission after having recently completed her training and is a great addition to the team.  The action and suspense are written so that most readers will have difficulty putting it down.  The ending is satisfying and does not feel rushed.  Recommended for young readers who like spy books.

Between by Jessica Warman

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  454

RAC Book:  Yes

Elizabeth Valchar wakes up to find her own dead body, but she can’t remember anything before she died.  As she watches her friends and family move on from the tragedy she realizes that her life was not as perfect as everyone thought it was.  She had already suffered the loss of her mother at a very young age, and of her father’s hasty remarriage afterward.  She did truly love her boyfriend, Richie, which is why it’s so hard to see him suffer after her death.  She has a ghostly companion in Alex, a boy in her high school who died a year before Elizabeth.  He was very unpopular and people did not react to his death the way they do hers, which makes for an uncomfortable situation.  Can Elizabeth find out what happened to her so that she can be free?

This story grabs readers right from the beginning because there is so much that Elizabeth does not know.  The more she remembers about the months before she died the more confusing it gets.  She is surrounded by a bunch of questionable characters who could either be on her side or working against her.  Her circle of friends is particularly mysterious as they appear vapid, but some of them know more than they are saying.  Fans of The Everafter, Elsewhere, and Thirteen Reasons Why will enjoy this book, but there are some heavy issues discussed.

Look Again by Lisa Scottoline

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  341

RAC Book:  Yes

Ellen is a reporter who is shocked to see a picture of her son’s face on a missing child flier.  She had adopted him two years ago when he was a very sick one year old.  The adoption papers appeared to be legal, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong.  After doing some investigating, Ellen begins to see that the pieces of her child’s past simply do not fit.  However, she has no proof that her son was unlawfully taken from his birth parents.  Does she keep quiet for fear of losing her son?  Can she live without knowing the truth about her son’s true lineage?

This thrilling mystery moves quickly from the first page, but the last third of the book really keeps the reader engaged.  Ellen’s actions are understandable and justified as she tries to find answers.  The author wrote Ellen’s emotional turmoil at the thought of losing her son in a way that anyone can understand, but especially parents.  There are a few twists and turns that make this story different from other child abduction mysteries.  Fans of mystery writers such as Harlan Coben and Mary Higgins Clark will love this story.


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