Foster teen Joey narrates events as he slowly uncovers a convoluted mystery, with a soupçon of romance added for spice.
Taciturn Joey, a long-term foster kid, has learned not to actually voice the thoughts in his head and is aiming for early graduation and emancipation as soon as possible. But just because he doesn’t talk much doesn’t mean he’s stupid. His clever internal commentary adds humor to this biting account of the alternative high school he attends, his classmates, and their families. Joey attempts to tread as lightly as he can, going to class and to his daily cleaning job at the home of a wealthy chess prodigy. He also cultivates a relationship with Trisha, a classmate and fellow foster kid who seems to have won the foster-parent sweepstakes. When Joey’s foster father watches porn on his school-issued laptop, it’s caught by sentry software, and Joey immediately is in a kind of trouble that seems to just build. Beaten up, homeless, and completely smitten by Trisha, Joey finds his curiosity and his attempts to solve his immediate problems uncovering hidden truths that lead to the solving of interconnected mysteries amid an eruption of violence. Joey’s voice is raw and engaging, both foulmouthed and inclined to wordplay, and his supporting cast, though not notably diverse, is equally well-drawn.
An eminently satisfying series opener for mystery fans who want their downtrodden detectives to be appealing, clever, and unafraid of action. (Mystery. 14-18)