Mayhem ensues when 12-year-olds Grace and Sophie spot the school counselor in the act of bloody murder.
The friends have been sneaking around on imaginative, late-night spying missions for some time, but they’ve been pretty tame. This changes when they see the already mysterious, cloyingly sweet and very unpleasant Dr. Agford attacking something—somebody?—with a streaming red cleaver, overhear her suspicious phone conversation and then decide to call 911. The call is traced to Sophie’s phone, and she takes full blame, since it turns out Agford was apparently just chopping beets. The girls, though, still think she’s up to something. Agford decides to begin “counseling” Sophie to keep tabs on her, kids at school begin to harass her, and the suspense ratchets up as the girls investigate the counselor’s background—and her bizarre wig. An FBI agent who at first seems likely to help begins to look threatening. Sensible and smart but socially ostracized fellow student Trista proves to be the voice of reason as Sophie’s world begins to fall apart. Sophie’s first-person narration rings true and makes the growing peril feel ominously real. Ample red herrings keep young sleuths and engaged readers guessing in this thrilling debut mystery.
Reminiscent of the ever-compelling film Rear Window, this appealing and often spine-tingling tale will leave its audience wishing for more. (Mystery. 11-13)