A smart, entertaining time-travel mystery.

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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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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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A riveting tour de force.

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SADIE

Sadie is seeking her sister’s killer; months later, podcast producer West McCray seeks to learn why Sadie abandoned her car and vanished.

When Mattie was born to Claire, a white, drug-addicted, single mother, Sadie, 6, became her de facto parent. Her baby sister’s love filled a hole in Sadie’s fiercely protective heart. Claire favored Mattie, who remained attached to her long after Claire disappeared from their grim, trailer-park home in rural Colorado. Sadie believes that Mattie’s determination to find Claire—which Sadie opposed—led to her brutal murder at age 13. Now 19, Sadie sets out to find and kill the man she holds responsible for her sister’s murder. Interwoven with Sadie’s first-person account is the transcript of McCray’s podcast series, The Girls, tracking his efforts to learn what’s happened to Sadie, prompted and partly guided by the sisters’ sympathetic neighbor. West’s off-the-record conversations are also included. Sadie is smart, observant, tough, and at times heartbreakingly vulnerable, her interactions mediated by a profound stutter. In the podcast, characters first seen through Sadie’s ruthless eyes further reveal (or conceal) their interactions and motives. Like Salla Simukka’s Lumikki Andersson, Sadie’s a powerful avatar: the justice-seeking loner incarnated as a teenage girl. Sadie exempts no one—including herself—from her unsparing judgment. Conveyed indirectly through its effect on victims, child sexual abuse permeates the novel as does poverty’s intergenerational legacy.

A riveting tour de force. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-10571-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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