Murder has hit Friendship, Wis., (population once 689, now 688) hard; Kippy Bushman hits back harder to find the murderer in this Fargo-like debut.
The 16-year-old is still grieving her mother, who died years ago, when BFF Ruth Fried is found killed in a local cornfield. The grisly details are immediately offset by small-town quirkiness and a thick Wisconsin accent, don’tcha know. While the community’s long list of scorned female teens and the father of one of those teens, inept Sheriff Staake, are ready to indict the high school’s resident scoundrel, Kippy has other theories. When Ruth’s mother gives her Ruth’s journal “to redact the sex parts,” Kippy learns more about Ruth’s clandestine escapades, as well as Ruth’s sometimes-disparaging remarks toward her. The only person who shares Kippy’s desire for the truth and who understood Ruth’s difficult personality is Davey, Ruth’s older brother, who’s returned from active military duty, dishonorably discharged and without a finger. As Kippy goes undercover, her wry humor helps her cope with her touchy-feely, middle school–guidance-counselor father (whose pamphlets and self-help groups don’t seem to cover serial killers), her feelings for Davey, her complicated relationship with Ruth and some harrowing situations that leave the heart pounding. The small town’s big secrets provide enough red herrings to keep readers guessing.
Can a murder mystery be funny? You betcha! (Mystery. 14 & up)