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ENVY by Gregg Olsen


From the Empty Coffin series, volume 1

by Gregg Olsen

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4027-8957-1
Publisher: Splinter/Sterling

Katelyn’s death is ruled accidental by the coroner, but twins Hayley and Taylor are convinced that a deeper evil has been committed.

In Port Gamble, a lumber-company town in Washington, the connections run both broad and deep, and it’s the exploration of these connections that provides the most satisfying aspect of this mystery. Everyone knows that the twins survived a crash when they were little, and yet no one has realized that they have an eerie connection to the dead and the future. This sixth sense has Hay-Tay, as best friend Beth Lee calls them, sleuthing for evidence that Katelyn's death was more than an accident. The opening is suspenseful, and chapter-ending cliffhangers help to maintain this, but readers will find that the evil and envy at the heart of the story prove to be disappointingly mundane. By the end, the author’s teasing style may be more irritating than suspense-building. Multiple well-developed characters add a depth and enigmatic quality that help to compensate for the lackluster plot. Small-town settings have long been used as laboratories to examine character, and this claustrophobic town is no different. Sequel expected; here's hoping Olsen's eye for character remains strong while he works on buffing up his plotting.

A relatively gratifying examination of the complexity of connections in a close-knit community. (Suspense. 12 & up)