Eleven-year-old Tommy Stevenson and his prankster friends (known collectively as “the Furtive Four”) decide that, for their latest prank, one of them will pretend to be the reincarnation of Sean Butler, a name they found on a headstone. Tommy is chosen at random to play Sean, and the three become obsessed with researching the boy’s death; it turns out that he drowned 12 years ago, along with his parents. Tommy tells everyone that he’s Sean as part of the prank but then begins to genuinely believe the claim. He even develops a fear of water and sees images of men arguing near the lake where the family died. Soon Tommy is convinced that Sean and his parents were killed, and newspaper reporter Derek Spalding helps verify this by getting police to exhume the bodies. The murders are linked to a jewelry heist, and it seems that a dangerous person believes that Tommy knows where to find the unrecovered jewels. The novel starts as a coming-of-age drama focusing on a boy and his efforts to deal with the notion of life after death. However, Saeed skillfully shifts the plot into a murder mystery, zeroing in on Spalding as he tracks down info on the Scorpio Gang, who may be responsible for the robbery and murders. He and Tommy share the spotlight, resulting in a fascinating combination: a sympathetic tween whose friends ditch him when they think he’s taken a joke too far, and a less-appealing drunk who condescends to his new partner, Moira. The novel sometimes feels like a young-adult story, particularly when it includes specific details on how Tommy makes a periscope out of empty milk cartons. That said, it’s sure to keep adult mystery fans’ attention.
An often delightful murder mystery that treats the concept of reincarnation with respect and sincerity.