COLD CALLS by Charles Benoit


Age Range: 12 - 15
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Three teens blackmailed into bullying behaviors team up to discover who’s behind it.

Eric has been receiving anonymous calls from someone who blackmails him into playing a series of pranks on a boy at school that he doesn’t even know. At the end of a community course for accused bullies, he discovers that two other teens, Shelly and Fatima, have gotten similar calls from the creepy, computerized voice of an anonymous caller who threatens to reveal their secrets. In Eric’s case, it’s an incriminating photograph of his ex-girlfriend that will be posted to the Internet unless he keeps quiet and does what he’s told. The kids have only a few days to discover who’s behind the blackmailing before a countdown ends, forcing them into one last act of bullying. The complex reasons that Eric, Shelly and Fatima have for keeping their secrets are understandable and drive the action, but the blackmailer’s motivation is far less interesting. The unraveling of the mystery is moderately suspenseful, but readers are likely to move from “what could be going on?” to “is that all?” as the intrigue devolves into a tepid denouement.

Alas, fails to shed light on the all-too-common issue of bullying and its impact on the emotional lives of teens. (Mystery. 12­-15)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-544-23950-0
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: HMH Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2014


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