Sixteen-year-old Kate Carter’s life goes from normal to anything but when, for a school art assignment, she perfectly captures the face of a serial killer, a situation that both catapults her into fame and threatens her security.
Mangum’s squeaky-clean thriller, aimed squarely at Christian girls, is narrated in the first person by a heroine trying very hard to be snarky, without success—she's just too nice. It’s an up-and-down affair in both tone and substance, dull voids punctuated with unexpected action, some of which is nearly impossible to buy. After an intriguing set up, during which the savant sketch-artist heroine draws a serial killer so exactly that he’s almost immediately recognized and caught, the story languishes until someone takes a potshot at Kate during a parade. It seems that the serial killer has at least one deadly friend in St. Louis County, a situation that raises the stakes for Kate and the people who surround her. It also causes her to reexamine her feelings about God and faith, a topic the author handles deftly and with a light hand, and sets the stage for a possible romantic friendship with a churchgoing boy.
The action-packed, sealed-with-a-twist ending strains credulity beyond the cracking point, but it finally engages the reader, who will likely close the book smiling. (Thriller. 12 & up)