Posts Tagged 'murder'

The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson

Genre: Mystery and # of Pages 383

Stevie and her friends, head to a summer camp as camp counselors, but really they are there to try and solve the unsolved case of four teenage camp counselors who were murdered at that same camp in the 1970s. What happened to them has become legend over time and the new camp owner would like to have the case solved so the town can move on and try to start forgetting the terrible tragedy. Stevie soon learns that back in the seventies four teenagers snuck into the woods late one night and were not seen alive again. One of the boys was found on the path to the woods as if he’d been running for help when he was struck down and the other three were stacked neatly in a box in the woods. Stevie finds that while the case was several decades ago, the biggest challenge is that many people still remember it vividly and are having trouble with yet another person digging it all up again so she makes it her mission to solve it this time. Shortly after they arrive there is another murder and Stevie knows that someone out there definitely knows more than they are sharing. Can she find who killed those teens back in the 70s and learn why? Can she solve the murder of the recently discovered victim?

Fans of the Truly Devious series will enjoy this title since it features many of the same characters and it’s all wrapped up in one book this time. The story has a campy Halloween horror movie feel for readers, which many readers will enjoy. The town is full of colorful characters who all bring something to the solving of this case. This is a fun, suspenseful mystery for mystery lovers. Hopefully we will see more of Stevie and her friends in future mystery stories.

In the Study with the Wrench by Diana Peterfreund

Genre: Mystery

Number of pages: 327

Still reeling from the murder of their Headmaster in the first book of this series, Orchid, Vaughan, Scarlet, Mustard, Peacock, and Plum have all returned despite the fact that they are now referred to on campus as the “murder crew.” All of them have their own reasons for wanting to return, but are not expecting it when another staff member is murdered. They also start getting mysterious notes that seem to just be targeting the six of them. There is also a new student who has been keeping an annoyingly close eye on the group and some of them don’t believe she’s a regular student. The school administration is trying desperately to keep things afloat after all this tragedy and do not want the students snooping around or making anything worse, but they feel they have a real need to find out what’s going on because they seem to be targets for whomever is behind these terrible events. Can they find out who is behind this new murder without getting hurt themselves? Is this murder unrelated to the murder in the first book? Can they trust each other or will their secrets get in the way?

This sequel to In the Hall with the Knife is a natural continuation of the first story and fans will want to keep going with these characters. In the first book, the reader learned how many secrets each character has and those were fleshed out a bit more in this one. The characters are all interesting and developed and it will be fun to see how they develop even more in the next one. Readers looking for a fun, lighter mystery will enjoy this title.

The Betrayed by Kiera Cass

Genre: Romance

Number of Pages: 292

In this sequel to The Betrothed, Hollis has been forced to flee her home country after her husband and parents were brutally murdered. All she has left is her new mother-in-law and sister-in-law. They have chosen to return to their homeland, but they are unsure if they will be welcome as the Isoltan King has made it clear he does not trust their family. Her husband’s cousin, Etan, has come to help them on the long journey but he has made it very clear that he does not care for Hollis and feels she has put his family in unnecessary danger. Hollis finds that she must prove herself to everyone she meets in this new kingdom because so few people trust Coroans. As she tries time and again to prove her loyalty to the family, Etan begins to come around and eventually the two grow close. They can’t help but feel guilty about their new infatuation after the recent demise of Hollis’s husband, who was Etan’s cousin. When they are summoned for a wedding of the Prince of Isolte, the King is very surprised to hear that Hollis’s husband and his family were brutally murdered. Hollis finds this interesting because she had assumed he was the one who ordered the attack. If the King of Isolte did not order her husband’s death then who did? Is she still in danger from this person? Why would someone want to murder her entire family on her wedding day? Is there any way for her and Etan to be together without feeling terrible guilt?

This book has a lot more action and drama than the first one did. The Betrothed ended in a really exciting way, but The Betrayed has more action and plot twists throughout the entire story. Hollis is a much stronger character than she first appears, but that could be because she finds along the way that there are things she truly cares about. In the beginning she simply went along with whatever people asked her to do, but by the end she is a force and will not be silenced. The ending has a few convenient developments that readers might find to be too easy, but nonetheless they will be satisfied with the ending of the story. The characters grow and develop throughout this series and readers will care what happens to them in the end.

Night Swim by Megan Goldin

Genre: Mystery

Rachel Krall has a murder podcast that has gained her some notoriety, but she is used to being fairly anonymous which is why she’s so stunned when she starts receiving letters on her car, in her hotel room, and other places that no one should know about. The letters are from the sister of a girl, Jenny Stills, who died 25 years ago under mysterious circumstances. Officially, the death was ruled a drowning, but as Rachel starts investigating it does seem like the facts don’t add up. In the meantime, the reason Rachel is in this small town is to report on a rape trial going on that has divided the town. Everyone has an opinion about the two people involved in this case and feels like they should have a say in what happens. The boy is a promising swimmer and many believe that he shouldn’t have his reputation sullied by a girl they believe simply changed her mind. The girl’s parents, however, say she hasn’t been the same since that fateful day and they know it was indeed rape. Can Rachel report on this case in a way that portrays both sides equally and fairly while holding off the growing hostility of the people in the town? Can she get to the bottom of what happened to Jenny Still all those years ago and bring peace to Jenny’s sister?

This story is engaging from the beginning as both the ongoing trial and the mystery from the past have many twists and turns in them. The fact she runs a podcast is also interesting because more and more people have been enjoying crime podcasts lately. Rachel’s character seems fleshed out and you can definitely see how motivated she is to make her podcast relevant, but also factual. The eventual resolution is satisfying and doesn’t feel too rushed as the pieces start to come together. Fans of The Escape Room, The Woman in Cabin 10, and the Woman in the Window will enjoy this title.

Teen Killers Club by Lily Sparks

Genre: Mystery

Signal Deere was convicted of murdering her best friend, Rose, but even though Signal woke up covered in Rose’s blood she knows she’s innocent. It does not help that she has been classified as a Class A, which is the most dangerous kind of criminal. Therefore, when she is approached about joining a new secret program where they take teenage Class A criminals and train them to be assassins she knows this is her only way out of jail for the rest of her life. The obvious problem here is that Signal is not a killer and has difficulty from the start with the trainings they make her do. The counselor in charge of them seems to be trying to make life particularly difficult for Signal. She quickly realizes that the other teens in the program do not have any issue with killing. Erik, in particular, notices right away that Signal really doesn’t belong there, but in order to survive she must try her best to succeed in the tasks before her. Things get more complicated when a man wearing a mask infiltrates their camp and the counselors won’t tell anyone who he is or what he wants. Can Signal survive a place where they are trying to make her a killer surrounded by other killers? Can she trust anyone around her? Will she ever be able to clear her name and find out who really killed Rose?

This book really takes off once Signal gets to the camp and meets the other teenage criminals. It becomes obvious that you can’t really classify people into nice, easy categories and Signal helps each of them to see that there is more to them than their past actions. She becomes increasingly aware of the dangers surrounding her in this place where she doesn’t know how to defend herself. Once it becomes clear they are in danger, the teens band together, but in the end they are not the ones in charge and things go sideways pretty quickly as they try to rebel. Signal’s backstory is explored, but readers will want to know more about what happened to Rose and how her death came to be. Readers will also be eager to see more after the exciting ending that leaves the future of these teens in question. Hopefully, there will be a sequel to continue Signal’s story. Recommended for fans of forensic mysteries.

I Know You Remember by Jennifer Donaldson

Genre: Mystery

Number of Pages: 326

Ruthie grew up in Anchorage, but moved away with her mom three years ago. After her mom’s sudden death she is set to return to live with her dad, whom she hasn’t seen since he got sober, and his new wife and stepsister. Ruthie is very excited to see her best friend, Zahra, whom she hasn’t seen since she moved away, but when she texts her to let her know she’s moving back she is surprised not to get a response. When she arrives she goes immediately to Zahra’s house in order to see her, but learns she hasn’t returned home from a big party on Friday night. By Monday morning the entire high school is buzzing with the news that Zahra is missing and Ruthie thinks it’s her job to find her, even if that means skipping school, ditching her step sister, and going against her father’s wishes. As she tries to unravel the mystery of what happened to Zahra, Ruthie begins to learn that the girl she remembers has changed a lot and she isn’t sure why. Has Zahra really changed that much or does Ruthie remember her differently than she actually was? Will she be able to find Zahra before it is too late and what secrets will she stumble across along the way?

This psychological thriller will keep you guessing until the shocking conclusion. The pieces of the puzzle are all there, but it takes awhile to put them together as Ruthie goes on her quest to find Zahra at all costs, no matter who she has to step on in the process. Along the way, Ruthie encounters a variety of interesting characters who all know a little about who Zahra really is and what might have happened to her. Fans of mysteries will be satisfied with the exciting ending.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Genre: Mystery

Number of Pages: 420

Ellingham Academy was founded in the 1930s by Albert Ellingham who wanted to created a school for talented young people. It was made famous in 1936 when Ellingham’s wife and daughter were kidnapped and ransomed. After Ellingham paid the ransom, however, they still were not returned. The whereabouts in particular of little Alice Ellingham has been a mystery ever since. In present day, Stevie Bell has been admitted to Ellingham Academy and she cannot wait to try to solve this decades old case. She wants to be a detective when she grows up and she feels she has learned enough about the case and sleuthing techniques to be able to solve this case once she is able to get onto campus. Shortly, after the school year begins, a fellow student is found dead in a recently unearthed tunnel. Was it an accident or was it murder? Stevie begins to grow convinced that the present day mystery is connected to the 1936 mystery and is determined to prove it. If there is a murderer on campus, though, will she be next?

This is the first in a three part mystery series and each one provides clues and shocking twists to the eventual reveal of both the 1936 mystery and the present day events. The cast of characters that Stevie meets at Ellingham Academy are interesting and colorful, but most importantly they are all supportive of each other’s interests and strengths. The story flips between Stevie in the present tense and then events and news clippings from the 1930s to help the reader piece together the mystery at the same time as Stevie. Fans of mystery stories will enjoy this series because since it take place over three books and therefore has the ability to truly develop at a natural pace while also fleshing out the unique culture of Ellingham Academy.

One by One by Ruth Ware

Genre: Mystery

Number of pages: 372

When a small tech company brings it’s shareholders to a fancy French ski chalet they are expecting to have a relaxing, fun vacation where they discuss the future of the company. Erin is one of the two employees who are supposed to make the retreat a dream for their guests and Liz is the outcast of the group since she is a shareholder, but she no longer works at the company. Shortly after the group arrives one of the CEO’s mysteriously goes missing, but before they can start a search party there is a terrible avalanche that traps them and knocks out the power. As they wait for help mysterious things start to happen to the guests one by one. Told in alternating chapters between Erin and Liz it becomes obvious that there is something sinister going on, but it isn’t clear who is doing this and why. Can they get help before it’s too late?

This mystery is engaging and draws the reader in right from the beginning. It’s made clear that everyone has something to hide and no one really knows who they can trust. The climax is exciting and worth the build up as it is revealed what is really going on at this ski chalet. Fans of books like And Then There Were None will enjoy this thrilling tale set in a fun setting.

Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd

Genre: Fantasy

Number of Pages: 376 p.

Anouk was created by a witch who uses her as a maid and refuses to let her outside the house they live in. She calls her a “beastie” because Anouk was originally an animal. She is not the only “beastie”, however, as the witch has also created several others who perform other functions around the house. Anouk has always been relatively happy, even though she is severely punished whenever she makes the witch mad, but she knows her fellow beasties are not so happy. When Anouk discovers the witch murdered in her bedroom she knows she and the others will be blamed so they go on a quest to try and find another spell to keep them human, but they only have three days before the original spell fades and they become animals once again. Can they find a way to stay human? Can they find out who killed their master?

This fantasy story is full of suspense and adventure as Anouk and her siblings strive to clear their names and stay human. Along the way they meet several interesting creatures, but not all of their intentions are pure and it’s difficult for them to know who they can trust. The author does a nice job of introducing the reader to this fantasy world and it’s easy to see this is only the beginning. The first in a series, this is recommended for fans of the Cassandra Clare novels.

The Girl From Widow Hills by Megan Miranda

Genre: Mystery

Arden was known around her hometown as a sleepwalker well before she was accidentally swept away in a storm one night. The town searched for her for three days before someone miraculously found her six year old fingers clutching a sewer grate. The media attention after her amazing rescue became so insane that she and her mother had to move to a new town. By the time she reached college, however, Arden was tired of being the girl who was rescued from Widow Hills and changed her name to Olivia. She lost touch with her mother and was therefore startled many years later when she was contacted because her mother had overdosed. Shortly after learning about her mother’s demise, Olivia starts sleepwalking again. She doesn’t want anyone to know about her past so she tries to keep this quiet too, but since she works as a hospital administrator everyone knows everyone else’s business. One night, Olivia is horrified when she wakes up injured, in her yard, next to a dead body. She feels pretty confident she did not kill this person, but she also doesn’t remember how she got outside either? Has her past caught up to her? What really happened all those years ago when she went missing at six years old? Can she trust anyone around her in this new life she has begun for herself?

Fans of mysteries will enjoy this title, which is by the same author as The Safest Lies. There are many red herrings to keep the reader guessing, but the clues are all there to figure out what is really happening with Olivia. She had such a troubled childhood where many people wanted to take advantage of her that she has trouble trusting others as an adult. Many of her friends seem very hurt they didn’t know about her past when it comes out, but she doesn’t talk about it with anyone, and that keeps her feeling even more alone as she feels the past catching up to her. The ending is very satisfying and exciting with surprises all the way until the end.

Diamond City by Francesca Flores

Genre: Fantasy

# of Pages: 392

Aina lived on the streets after witnessing her parents terrible murder in Diamond City, where she lives.  Then, one day she was taken in by Kohl, a notorious crime leader, and was trained to be a vicious assassin.  As a young adult she is given an assignment that seems impossible, but if she succeeds all of her dreams will come true.  The only problem is that if she does not succeed, everything she has worked so hard for will come crashing down.  As she begins to investigate this crime she learns there’s a lot that doesn’t make any sense and she wonders if she’s uncovering a secret plot by someone to completely take over Diamond City.  Does she follow orders like she always does or does she think for herself and potentially take a different, albeit riskier path?

Fans of Six of Crows will like this title.  Aina is a well developed character that you immediately root for even though she works as an assassin.  She has a motley crew of characters around her, but it’s easy to see this world she lives in and the many complications she faces daily just to survive.  There are many twists and turns to the plot and spy-esque plans that fans of spy novels will appreciate even if the setting is more of a fantasy one.  The story stands on its own, but is reminiscent of popular series right now.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages: 306

2019 Iowa High School Book Award

Will lives in a tough neighborhood where there are many rules that everyone just knows.  One of these rules is to never talk to police and to avenge killings yourself.  When Shawn, Will’s brother, is gunned down in their neighborhood he knows that according to the rules it is up to him to avenge Shawn by killing the person who shot him.  Will gets in the elevator with his brother’s gun and on each of the seven floors down a ghost of someone who knew Shawn gets in to tell him some information he needs to know before altering the course of his life with a huge action.

Written in poetry format, this story immediately pulls in the reader because it’s so easy to understand Will’s plight.  He doesn’t want to kill anyone but feels like he has to because of the code of the neighborhood and in order to prove that he cared about Shawn, who had done a lot for him since their dad died by gunfire.  As he begins meeting these ghosts of people who used to live in the neighborhood Will realizes that everything is not always as it seems and he might need to rethink any drastic actions.  A powerful story that is highly recommended for everyone, but especially reluctant readers.

The End of Our Story by Meg Haston

Genre: Romance

280 p.

2019 Iowa High School Award Winner

Bridge and Wil were very close until Bridge did something that Wil did not think he could bring himself to forgive.  It has been months and Bridge is still struggling without Wil and his family’s influence.  When she runs into Wil, his new girlfriend, and his dad at the grocery store his dad urges her to make things right with Wil.  She argues that it’s Wil who doesn’t want to have a relationship with her but he argues back that she needs to mend the friendship if nothing else.  Shortly after the town is shocked by the news that Wil’s dad has been murdered by an intruder and Bridge knows that it is her job to comfort Wil and his mother at this time.  Eventually, they begin to grow closer as Wil struggles with the aftermath of this attack, but is he being completely honest with Bridge?  Do they really have a future together or are they just looking for familiarity during a tragedy?

The relationship between the two main characters is very complicated, as many relationships are, despite both Wil and Bridge’s desire that it be easy and simple.  Bridge is trying to make up for a mistake she made and is desperate to get back in Wil’s good graces, but Wil has demons to overcome himself.  They are both facing many difficult decisions as they enter their senior year and it understandably causes some tension and anxiety with those around them.  They lean on each other to help them through these confusing times, but often find that without total honesty and trust nothing really matters.  Recommended for fans of conflict romances.

 

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  370

Jude, her twin sister, and their older sister were whisked away when they were seven to the land of faeries after their parents were savagely murdered before their eyes.  Jude’s older sister is actually her half sister and her father is from that land so she fits in well, despite not wanting to.  Meanwhile, Jude and her twin are picked on everyday since they are mortal and do not have some of the powers everyone else has.  They even have to wear protective charms because other can control them with glamours.  Jude is very headstrong and refuses to back down and comply when she is bullied and it often gets her into more trouble.  Prince Cardan, in particular, seems to truly despise Jude and makes it his daily mission to make her life a living hell.  When Jude is presented with an opportunity to raise her social status and protect herself from the likes of Prince Cardan, she jumps at it without really thinking about what she is getting into.  The King has announced he will be stepping down and choosing one of his six children to succeed him.  She knows this is a time when much can go wrong, but despite all her preparations she is unprepared for the treacherous plans already in motion.  Can she save herself and her family from those trying to destroy everything they hold dear?  Will she put her faith in the right person?

This book is immediately engaging and the characters are multifaceted.  Since it came out it has been constantly checked out and word of mouth is definitely spreading on this popular new fantasy.  There are many twists and turns in the plot and it’s difficult to predict how different characters will react to different situations.  This is a must have for young adult libraries.

The Girl I Used To Be by April Henry

Genre:  Suspense/Mystery

229 pages

Iowa Teen Award Winner 2018-19

Olivia was born with the name Ariel, but it was changed after her mother was murdered in the forest while their family was looking for a Christmas tree.  Olivia was only three at the time and everyone believed her father killed her mother and then dropped her off at a Walmart and disappeared.  She’s never been able to remember anything about the attack, but life has not been easy as she was passed around to foster homes and even suffered a failed adoption before deciding to emancipate herself.  Everyone is shocked when it is discovered that her father actually died the same day as her mother.  So who killed them and why did they release Ariel?  Could they still be out there waiting to finish her off if she starts asking questions?

April Henry does it again with a fast, suspenseful mystery story where Olivia tries to find out what happened to her parents all those years ago.  Coming back to her home town is overwhelming at first and she decides she doesn’t want anyone to know her true identity, but eventually she finds that it’s really nice to reconnect with her roots.  There are many characters to keep track of that are not particularly developed, but could all be potential suspects.  Olivia is very strong, motivated, and independent which makes her a good protagonist.  Reluctant readers and mystery readers will enjoy this title.


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