In Caruso’s (Our Souls to Keep, 2013, etc.) YA novel, 15-year-old Will Reed and his friend must solve a murder mystery to protect their own lives and the freedom of Will’s ex-convict father.
Will is a caring but restless adolescent who’s spent five years being shuffled between different foster families. His biological mother was tragically killed in a car crash when he was a small child, and immediately following her death, young Will and his father supported each other, trying to make the best of the father’s meager wages. However, the pair’s peaceful life was disrupted when Will’s father was arrested and jailed for armed robbery. Five years later, the father is suddenly released from prison and hopes to reconnect with his son. Will is torn between his anger at his father for deserting him and his natural desire for connection. His internal strife is deepened by his emotional bond to his unwaveringly caring new foster parents. Things become exponentially more complicated when Will and his friend Mason uncover a body in the woods and the police link Will’s father to the crime. Will thinks that he’s responsiblefor drawing police suspicion to his father, and he wants to undo the mistake. As the story progresses, the formerly isolated teen must decide whom to trust. Caruso effectively realizes his characters throughout, describing Will’s struggle with insight and depth. The teenager’s sarcastic voicefits his adolescent angst and serves to lighten some of the plot’s heavier subject matter (“After a short time, he said, ‘Well, there’s good news and bad news.’ ‘I hate when people say that,’ I said”). However, the story might have been even more interesting if the complicated father-son relationship were further explored.
An often engaging YA murder mystery featuring surprising plot twists.