Birdie Lindberg, a lover of detective novels, teams up with her one-time hookup Daniel Aoki to solve a mystery at the historic Seattle hotel where they work.
After years of being home-schooled by her strict, recently deceased grandmother, orphaned 18-year-old Birdie’s circle of friends is limited to three adults: her widowed grandpa, Hugo (with whom she lives on Bainbridge Island); her free-spirited–artist honorary aunt, Mona Rivera; and Ms. Patty, co-owner of her favorite refuge in the city, the Moonlight Diner. So when Birdie, who’s white and has undiagnosed narcolepsy, starts a night shift at a historic hotel, she’s gobsmacked to bump into co-worker Daniel, a handsome half-Japanese/half-white boy with whom she shared a romantic-turned-awkward night before fleeing the scene. Remembering Birdie’s love of mysteries, Daniel—who’s 19 and a magic aficionado—suggests they investigate whether a regular guest is actually Raymond Darke, the pen name of a reclusive bestselling local mystery author. Bennett (Starry Eyes, 2018, etc.) excels at nuanced characterization, portraying deeply felt first love and offering readers well-researched diversity (Mona is Puerto Rican, Daniel’s deaf in one ear and has grandparents who survived the Japanese-American internment). The mystery theme is compelling (each chapter opens with a quote from a famous sleuth), but it’s the way Birdie and Daniel navigate an emotional and physical relationship—despite their sensitively handled issues—that’s truly memorable.
An atmospheric, multilayered, sex-positive romance from the talented Bennett. (Fiction. 14-18)