An intricately plotted whodunit that maintains suspense to the end.

PRETTY DEAD QUEENS

A young woman lands in a Gothic mansion in a small seaside town in Northern California and rapidly becomes mired in its mysterious history.

After her mother dies, nearly-18-year-old Cecelia Ellis moves in with the grandmother she hardly knows. Maura Weston is nothing short of a celebrity, a rich, bestselling author of mysteries—the first and most famous of which was inspired by the 1970 murder of her own friend Caroline Quinn, a homecoming queen. Immediately taken in by a friendly but complicated group at Seaview High, Cecelia’s grief over her mother’s death is largely subsumed by her interest in Caroline’s murder and then by another present-day mystery that unfolds. A large cast of supporting characters, including Ben and Gabriel, two different guys who both interest Cecelia, all seem to be hiding something. Readers will be kept guessing about who she can trust, and the thriller sustains its central tension as one person after another is suspected of misdoings. That Cecelia so rapidly becomes immersed in this insular town following her mom’s death and her move from Los Angeles requires some suspension of disbelief, but her clever wit blended with flashes of vulnerability makes for an easily sympathetic narrator. Cecelia reads as White, and she remarks early on about the racial homogeneity of Seaview; Gabriel and his sister, who befriends Cecelia, are Filipinx. There are queer supporting characters.

An intricately plotted whodunit that maintains suspense to the end. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-47982-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

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A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

From the Good Girl's Guide to Murder series , Vol. 1

Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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