A teenage gumshoe investigates the probable murder of his beloved coach and mentor.
Matt Foley has always felt a slight disconnect from his brainy family. He seeks refuge in basketball and taekwondo, excelling at both. While attending a local taekwondo tournament, Matt's mentor, Coach Colson, spars with an enigmatic stranger. Things go terribly wrong, and Coach ends up with a crushed larynx, but Matt doesn't think this was an accident. Soon he rallies a few friends, including the student paper's editor, Graciana, and the group dives into the various hidden secrets their little town has to offer. Stevens crafts a mostly excellent mystery here, packing it with suspense, red herrings, double meanings, and obscured clues. The author complements the mystery with solid character arcs for Matt and Graciana and engrossing characterization for the supporting players. This small Virginia town feels fully fleshed out. Eagle-eyed mystery fans may be able to craft a solid hunch about the whys and whos of Coach's murder, but even the most hardened crime buff would find it difficult to predict this whodunit's resolution—which comes, unfortunately, as a letdown. It all makes sense, and the path taken toward this conclusion is gripping, but once readers get to the end, there's less of a satisfied fist pump waiting and more of a respectable nod.
Overall, a smartly crafted mystery filled with suspense and intrigue. (Mystery. 12-18)