WIN LOSE KILL DIE

A plot-driven mystery that doesn’t quite coalesce.

Somebody has it in for the pupils of elite British boarding school Morton Academy.

After last year’s tragic boating accident left head girl Morgan dead and narrator Liz hospitalized with a head injury, Liz is looking forward to her final year before graduation. The first order of business: the secret Society of Jewel and Bone, replete with robes, candles, and a skeleton in a glass coffin. The group convenes to appoint Jameela as Morgan’s successor, and Liz’s roommate Taylor as her deputy. Jameela’s time as head girl is short-lived, however: At that night’s traditional senior pajama party, a serious asthma attack ends her life. Deputy head boy Frank raises the alarm, making a public scene in which he declares that Jameela was murdered—and soon, he’s dead, too. As headmistress Dr. Patel tries to keep her students focused on academics, the deaths continue to stack up, and red herrings abound. Morton Academy is isolated—an hour from the nearest major town, with anachronistic policies for students banning cell phones and social media and seriously restricting internet usage—which upholds the lack of outside scrutiny. Fans of dark academia whodunits will be on familiar ground but may find the final reveal anticlimactic, and pacing issues make unfolding events feel more disjointed than suspenseful. Most characters are cued white; contextual clues point to some ethnic diversity.

A plot-driven mystery that doesn’t quite coalesce. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2023

ISBN: 9780593705476

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

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

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

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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. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

A TEMPEST OF TEA

From the Blood and Tea series , Vol. 1

Crowd-pleasing fun laced with political fire: a winner.

Bestselling author Faizal returns to the universe of We Hunt the Flame (2019) with a stand-alone duology opener.

Orphaned Arthie, brown-skinned with mauve hair, has created a criminal empire out of sheer pluck despite being Ceylani in Ettenia, where laws favor white people. She pulled legendary pistol Calibore from a stone plinth (though the prophecy that doing so would make her the nation’s leader turned out to be a hoax). She’s also built Spindrift, a teahouse-cum-bloodhouse, where she gathers secrets from wealthy humans and vampires, amassing power and security. Now Arthie has her sights set on vengeance—and the Ram, Ettenia’s masked monarch. When she and Jin, her brother-by-choice (who’s cued East Asian), are drawn into a heist, they assemble a diverse crew of immigrants whose roles riff on genre archetypes. The lush prose pulses with feeling as revelations are dropped and the tension ratchets up, keeping the pages turning as the motley gang plans to infiltrate a vampire society, retrieve a stolen ledger, and double-cross one of the Ram’s guards (who might be planning to double-cross them). Their ultimate goal: taking down the colonizing Ettenians and the exploitative East Jeevant Company. It’s all very exciting right up to the action-packed finale, which promises more conspiracy and (hopefully) justice to come. This compelling read offers interesting commentary on our society while feeling entirely real within the context of its own worldbuilding.

Crowd-pleasing fun laced with political fire: a winner. (map) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2024

ISBN: 9780374389406

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023

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