Tense and engaging—well worth the effort of suspending one’s disbelief.


In a suspenseful high school whodunit, AP chemistry student Nearly “Leigh” Boswell investigates a series of murders for which someone is trying to frame her.

Every week, Leigh (which she really prefers to her given name, Nearly) combs the missed-connections ads in her local paper, hoping for word from the father who disappeared years ago. On the day her chemistry teacher lectures the class about Schrödinger’s cat, Leigh spots an eerie outlier among the messages: “Newton was wrong....Find me tonight under the bleachers.” After a math tutee’s brutal attack, a scrawled warning in Leigh’s desk, and a dead cat delivered to Leigh’s doorstep, complete with Schrödinger reference, a second science-themed personal ad convinces Leigh that something nefarious is afoot. With regard to believability, the science-class conceits are as tricky to swallow as the idea that a teenager in 2014 browses print personals. But the point here isn’t realism—it’s puzzles. Cryptic missed-connections clues, a sequence of numbers left on the victims’ bodies, and of course, the identity and motive of the murderer leave plenty for readers to contemplate as Leigh rushes to crime scenes and runs from the police. The story’s single supernatural element—when Leigh touches people, she experiences their emotions—is woven deftly into the story, and the romance plot is compelling.

Tense and engaging—well worth the effort of suspending one’s disbelief. (Mystery. 12-18)

Pub Date: March 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3926-0

Page Count: 388

Publisher: Kathy Dawson/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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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. 27, 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. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2022

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