A fun mystery with a clever hero that offers sharp, surprising takes on big issues.

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A 16-year-old investigates her new high school’s murderous secrets in Gibbs’ YA novel.

Izzy Brown and her twin brother, Axl, are living in a trailer with their mother in Dandridge, Florida, when Axl’s football talents earn them both a wealthy and powerful benefactor. Real estate mogul Dalton Wolfe moves the twins to the exclusive Bardo Academy, named after its neighboring “laboratory-developed beach community,” as Izzy calls it. Axl quickly feels at home there as the star jock, but Izzy’s feisty comebacks and thoughtful nature make it harder for her to feel at ease with kids whose houses look “like the set of a drug lord film.” Still, she finds her place on the staff of the Bardo Breeze, the school newspaper, and befriends Elton Jones-Davies, a nice boy with Asperger syndrome who loves editing Wikipedia entries. Wanting to become an investigative journalist on a par with Nellie Bly, Izzy, with Elton’s help, starts digging into the unsolved 1983 murder of Ricky Lee, another star football player who was attending Bardo on a scholarship. As adults who remember Ricky become skittish around the investigation, Izzy finds herself turning to prescription drugs to numb the stress of trying to untangle dark secrets. Set in 2008, months before that year’s financial crisis and at the beginning of the opioid crisis, Gibbs’ teen thriller has smart, relevant social commentary bubbling under its surface. Izzy is capable and smart but also relatably flawed and critical of herself, and flashbacks to 1983 reveal Ricky’s status as an outsider at Bardo in multiple ways. The parallel stories reinforce the book’s complex perspective on privilege, otherness, and Florida in general while leading up to an outlandish twist.

A fun mystery with a clever hero that offers sharp, surprising takes on big issues.

Pub Date: May 17, 2022


Page Count: 300

Publisher: Borne Back Books

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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

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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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Will leave readers looking nervously over their shoulders.


Paisley, a true-crime podcaster, finds herself at the center of a mystery.

Six teen influencers in the worlds of beauty, gaming, books, and more are invited to a late medieval Gothic era–themed resort, the brainchild of a billionaire who has spared no expense in building an eerie amusement park on the newly created, human-made Jagged Island. The influencers get to see everything before it’s open to the public—they have one exclusive weekend of posting to their collective audiences. The rides are great, but the staff is limited, and a big storm is closing in. Things turn sinister when one of the influencers goes missing, the island’s internet connection is sabotaged, and the cell service is jammed. Paisley needs to use her intuition, honed from digging into murder cases, to figure out who is doing this and why. Preston displays her usual exceptional pacing, with murderous delight sprinkled throughout the plot. The author effectively presents a mystery littered with clues, including red herrings, shown through the lens of a paranoid protagonist. In essence, this is a slasher film in book form, filled with the gore and violence fans anticipate and expect. Most characters, including Paisley, read White; an island staff member and one influencer are cued Black.

Will leave readers looking nervously over their shoulders. (Thriller. 12-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-48149-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2022

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