A fast-paced thriller best read with the lights on.

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SECOND VERSE

A supernatural murder mystery with a love interest rooted in the past and present.

New to the town of Shady Springs, Lange quickly learns that Halloween is a serious event for this sleepy town, especially when it comes to The Hunt. The Hunt is a simulated murder mystery put on by the seniors at her school, the Preston Academy of Arts, to challenge the underclassmen’s ability to solve the whodunit. Although not keen on the blood and gore of The Hunt, to get in the holiday spirit, Lange offers to host a séance on the Friday the 13th that falls before Halloween. To up the séance’s creep factor, Lange decides to hold the event in the barn of her 200-year-old farmhouse, which has seen its fair share of violence, including the murder of an entire family. During the séance, the teens are visited by a spirit that conveniently binds Lange with Vaughn, her secret crush, in a mission to uncover the past and find a present-day killer. Although at times the text takes dark twists and turns that may feel graphic to susceptible readers, it is tempered by mundane teen concerns and a budding romance.

A fast-paced thriller best read with the lights on. (Suspense. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-935462-86-6

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Luminis

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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A riveting tour de force.

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SADIE

Sadie is seeking her sister’s killer; months later, podcast producer West McCray seeks to learn why Sadie abandoned her car and vanished.

When Mattie was born to Claire, a white, drug-addicted, single mother, Sadie, 6, became her de facto parent. Her baby sister’s love filled a hole in Sadie’s fiercely protective heart. Claire favored Mattie, who remained attached to her long after Claire disappeared from their grim, trailer-park home in rural Colorado. Sadie believes that Mattie’s determination to find Claire—which Sadie opposed—led to her brutal murder at age 13. Now 19, Sadie sets out to find and kill the man she holds responsible for her sister’s murder. Interwoven with Sadie’s first-person account is the transcript of McCray’s podcast series, The Girls, tracking his efforts to learn what’s happened to Sadie, prompted and partly guided by the sisters’ sympathetic neighbor. West’s off-the-record conversations are also included. Sadie is smart, observant, tough, and at times heartbreakingly vulnerable, her interactions mediated by a profound stutter. In the podcast, characters first seen through Sadie’s ruthless eyes further reveal (or conceal) their interactions and motives. Like Salla Simukka’s Lumikki Andersson, Sadie’s a powerful avatar: the justice-seeking loner incarnated as a teenage girl. Sadie exempts no one—including herself—from her unsparing judgment. Conveyed indirectly through its effect on victims, child sexual abuse permeates the novel as does poverty’s intergenerational legacy.

A riveting tour de force. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-10571-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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A sophisticated and suspenseful debut.

THEY WISH THEY WERE US

Things haven’t been the same for high school senior Jill Newman since her best friend was murdered.

Three years ago, Graham Calloway confessed to killing his girlfriend, Shaila Arnold. Now he’s in a juvenile facility, and Jill is starting senior year at Long Island’s Gold Coast Prep without her dearest friend. Luckily, Jill has Nikki Wu, whom she’s grown close to since Shaila’s death; her sweet boyfriend, Henry; and, of course, the Players, an exclusive club that all but guarantees an easy ride to a successful future. Jill, an aspiring astronomer who attends Gold Coast on a scholarship, must help choose the next round of freshman Player recruits while also securing desperately needed scholarship money for college. When Graham’s sister, Rachel, texts Jill with claims of Graham’s innocence, Jill reluctantly agrees to help. What if he actually is innocent? As Jill digs for the truth, she must come to terms with her own complicity in the Players’ culture of misogyny and casual cruelty and realizes that Shaila might have been keeping explosive secrets. Goodman deftly explores the complex nature of friendship, privilege, grief, and the often crushing expectations placed on teens, all of which dovetails neatly with a twisty murder mystery. Most characters seem to be white except for Nikki, who emigrated with her family from Hong Kong; Jill is Jewish. There is queer representation in the supporting cast.

A sophisticated and suspenseful debut. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11429-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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