In this light comedy/murder mystery, 16-year-old Hartley tries to prove that her ex-boyfriend didn’t kill her rival.
The emphasis stays on comedy with spikes of suspense as Hartley bounces from rage against boyfriend Josh and his not-so-secret squeeze Courtney to screaming shock when she finds Courtney’s dead body in Josh’s closet. Despite appearances, she’s sure he’s innocent and decides to prove it, no matter how ill-equipped she may be to do so. She teams up with Chase, a hunky, goth-type school journalist who looks a bit suspicious himself. Hartley breezily defies her mother and sneaks out of her house to meet strangers in the middle of the night, even after she literally stumbles over a second murder victim. Not surprisingly, eventually she finds herself in danger. Halliday keeps the mood light and tries to balance the comedy and suspense. Comedy easily wins the battle, but suspense often breaks into this fairly standard murder mystery. The author portrays Hartley as a bit of a bubble brain, however, indulging in omigod freakouts with best friend Sam at every turn of events and constantly acting on impulse, quipping her way through high-school suspects until she finds the major clue in the case. It’s fine for an audience more interested in light entertainment than discerning heft.
Light indeed, but merry and often suspenseful. A pleasant, funny chick-lit mystery. (Mystery. 12 & up)