Ghosts, dead bodies, dark secrets and bad energy still lurk in Steepleton, N.J., the boondocks town made famous by the disappearance of high-school loser Christopher Creed.
When the body of Darla Richardson, the sister of Bo Richardson from The Body of Christopher Creed (2000), Plum-Ucci's Printz Honor–winning debut, is discovered dead and buried in the woods behind the town, dogged, aspiring college reporter Mike Mavic and his girlfriend hit the road to investigate her death and ultimately Chris' disappearance. Fans of the first book will love the return of the first book's characters, including Bo, Torey Adams and Justin, Creed's bombed-out brother, who's been in and out of rehab since his brother's disappearance. However, readers won't like Mike's narration, whose voice is closer to a sensitive 40+-year-old’s than a college student's: "I was hoping Justin might find moderation, quit going for the energy-charged manipulation tricks, and maybe give his brother up to the Higher Power." Much of the first book's finesse with teenspeak, which made it both a page turner and a sordid pathway into the psyche of an insular New Jersey town, has vanished, leaving far too many platitudes in its place.
Finally, what of Christopher Creed himself? Fans will have to slog through 400+ pages to spot the subtle and not-so-subtle clues that lead to the truth in this sort-of thriller. (Mystery. 12 & up)