New school, new rules, and a mysterious new…friend?
Fourteen-year-old Henry Walker and his mother relocated from Texas to Seattle so he could take advantage of a military dependent’s scholarship at the prestigious Clinton Academy while his father is in Afghanistan. Bethany befriends Henry right away and introduces him to another girl, who crushes on him. Though he’s really not ready to say he’s gay out loud, Henry’s more interested in enigmatic, intelligent, and (usually) unfriendly Julius Drake. (Lacking clues to the contrary, readers will infer that the principal characters are white.) When the popular star of the swim team attempts suicide and adults inexplicably decide Henry and Julius might have bullied him, Bethany and the boys investigate, uncovering a social media–centered mystery. Someone is catfishing the popular guys in Clinton Academy, and only Henry and his new friends can expose them. Gay-romance writer Harris aims at her youngest audience yet with this first title in the Life and Times of Julius Drake series, an obvious homage to Sherlock Holmes. The Holmes-ian Julius and Watson-esque Henry even have a Mrs. Hudson in Julius’ nanny, Mrs. Hundstead. (The boys’ relationship is tame, though this school is like many others in its hormone-fueled rumor mill.) The reason the boys begin the investigation could not be more flimsy; however, the mystery heats up three-quarters of the way in, and the denouement and setup for Book 2 are satisfying.
Not a breakout but worth a look. (Mystery. 13-15)