A predictable teenage murder mystery—with exceptional teenage characters.

MARLY IN PIECES

A teenage girl’s death leaves her best friend with bittersweet memories and dangerous questions.

2014 is a terrible year for Marly, who has just discovered the body of her best friend, Rae, in a ramshackle cabin in the woods (“If not for her grayish-blue complexion and Goth-purple lips, Rae could’ve been sleeping”). Three years earlier, when they were in their early teens, they had found that cabin and dubbed it their “sanctuary,” a place to escape their troubled home lives. They swore a blood oath to be best friends and keep the cabin for them alone, but boys and adolescent insecurities slowly drove them apart. Constantine alternates between the two timelines throughout the novel. In the past, Marly and Rae’s deep friendship falters thanks to Rae’s partying, some snarky friends, and, most importantly, a hot jock named Duffy. Marly can hardly believe Duffy’s interest in her, even as a real relationship develops, because she feels a competition brewing with her lively, beautiful bestie. Meanwhile, in the present storyline, the teenage drama becomes deadly serious as it becomes clear that Rae’s death was not a suicide. With each new revelation about Rae’s secrets, Marly realizes that everyone’s a suspect. The mystery at the core of Constantine’s YA novel will hold few surprises for fans of the genre, who will probably guess the guilty party early on. What does surprise, however, is the fascinating codependency between the two girls. Rae and Marly wound each other deeply and repeatedly with barbed comebacks and secrets before reconciling, always dancing around their mutual infatuation. The novel treads through the usual suspects of shocking teenage crises: pregnancy, self-harm, love triangles, and treacherous adults. But Rae and Marly’s tender, twisted love for each other gives the story real drama.

A predictable teenage murder mystery—with exceptional teenage characters.

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 979-8-66-414076-7

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

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A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

From the Good Girl's Guide to Murder series , Vol. 1

Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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Intervals of intense suspense and a well-crafted puzzle blend to create a thrill ride of a story.

FIVE SURVIVE

Red Kenny and her friends’ spring break road trip veers off course when they are detained by a sniper.

Since her police captain mother’s murder, Red has been inseparable from Maddy Lavoy, though it’s often difficult for Red to witness the warm family dynamics Maddy and her brother, Oliver, share with their mother, an assistant DA and Red’s late mother’s best friend. Red, the Lavoy siblings, and three other friends—Reyna Flores-Serrano, Arthur Moore, and Simon Yoo—embark in a borrowed RV on a journey to Gulf Shores but instead find themselves in the crosshairs of a long-range rifle held by a man demanding that one of them reveal an important secret. As Red battles internally with her guilt and grief over her mother’s death, her companions become increasingly volatile and paranoid as the group tries to discern whose secret is the one the hostage taker is after. The sometimes-tedious, sometimes-intense moment-by-moment breakdown of events in the 31-foot RV (that seems much smaller as the night wears on) magnifies the claustrophobia. Subtle indications that no one can really be trusted alternate with mind-blowing revelations. Toxic masculinity is often at war with common sense and good judgment, and moral ambiguity abounds. Red, Arthur, and the Lavoy siblings read White; Reyna is Mexican American, and Simon is cued as biracial (Korean and White). (This review has been updated to correct a character’s name.)

Intervals of intense suspense and a well-crafted puzzle blend to create a thrill ride of a story. (maps) (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-37416-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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