A smart, entertaining time-travel mystery.

THE LAST TAG

After being transported to ancient Roman times, a young man must solve a young girl’s murder.

Life in Arizona isn’t so great for EB—his Dad is overworked, his mom lives in another state and doesn’t want to see him—so he spends his time tagging around the neighborhood. However, trouble starts when he encounters the ghost of a young girl in an abandoned house, and she begs him to solve the mystery of her murder. Unfortunately for EB, Aurelia’s murder took place in A.D. 78 in a Roman city near Pompeii called Herculaneum. Once he realizes he can’t ignore her request, he’s magically transported there. EB knows a little Latin from school, but he also knows that there’s only a limited amount of time before Mount Vesuvius erupts. As he meets various members of Aurelia’s family and their well-off Roman acquaintances, his graffiti skills come in handy: Leaving a message on a street wall helps him track down the culprit. The stakes get higher on a personal level when EB catches the eye of a young Roman girl from a prominent family that’s tied to Aurelia’s death; in turn, he makes an enemy of her brother. As EB begins putting the clues together, he has the genius idea to expose the murder in a very public fashion so that Aurelia’s family might be avenged and her ghost can find closure. The climax of the novel occurs during a remarkably tense scene at the Roman theater. Though readers must suspend disbelief that EB would fit into ancient Roman society so seamlessly, the novel moves along at a solid pace and the motivations for the murder are well-plotted. EB’s voice is charmingly youthful and acerbic, while also recalling the sharp observations of old film detectives.

A smart, entertaining time-travel mystery.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1469908151

Page Count: 338

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Thrill-seekers will be absorbed by this exciting story.

THE GIRL IN THE CASTLE

The lives of two girls named Hannah, living in different centuries on different continents, intersect.

Eighteen-year-old Hannah Dory is an English peasant living a harsh existence in 1347. Hannah Doe is a resident of Belman Psychiatric Hospital in 2023 New York City, brought in after being found on the street experiencing hallucinations and screaming something about a castle. Modern-day Hannah periodically enters a catatonic state, something the staff refer to as her “going to the castle.” Columbia psychology student Jordan Hassan is a new intern at Belman, and his interest is piqued by this girl no one knows much about. He decides to play detective and try to discover her history himself. Meanwhile, in the medieval England storyline, Hannah Dory tries to save her village from starvation by sneaking into the baron’s castle but finds herself swept up in a fight between the new baron and his rival. The book sustains a breakneck pace with short chapters and many cliffhangers that will keep readers’ interest. Patterson’s author’s note includes a list of mental health resources and describes his experience of working as an aide in a psychiatric hospital when he was a teenager. The narrative thoughtfully centers mental illness and touches on complex topics like suicide. Whiteness is the default; Jordan is cued as Muslim.

Thrill-seekers will be absorbed by this exciting story. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-41172-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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THE BOOK THIEF

When Death tells a story, you pay attention. Liesel Meminger is a young girl growing up outside of Munich in Nazi Germany, and Death tells her story as “an attempt—a flying jump of an attempt—to prove to me that you, and your human existence, are worth it.” When her foster father helps her learn to read and she discovers the power of words, Liesel begins stealing books from Nazi book burnings and the mayor’s wife’s library. As she becomes a better reader, she becomes a writer, writing a book about her life in such a miserable time. Liesel’s experiences move Death to say, “I am haunted by humans.” How could the human race be “so ugly and so glorious” at the same time? This big, expansive novel is a leisurely working out of fate, of seemingly chance encounters and events that ultimately touch, like dominoes as they collide. The writing is elegant, philosophical and moving. Even at its length, it’s a work to read slowly and savor. Beautiful and important. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: March 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-83100-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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