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)