No one will read these books for the mystery, which is so glacially developed it’s easy to forget, what with all the sex,...

THIS SIDE OF JEALOUSY

From the Innocents series , Vol. 2

One and a half volumes into her series, Peloquin’s central mystery plot finally begins to come together.

A few weeks after having moved to a superrich swath of the Connecticut shore (The Innocents, 2012), sisters Charlie and Alice are beginning to settle in—kind of. Charlie and Jude are a confirmed couple, and shockingly, Jude’s cousin and sometime lover, Cybill, seems to welcome this development. Alice and Tommy, her dead stepsister Camilla’s former boyfriend, are also romantically paired, though Tommy insists on keeping the relationship secret. Alice’s mother has confirmed her longtime affair with her new, moneybags second husband—actually Alice’s father, making the girl’s relationship to Camilla an uncomfortably close one. On the periphery are two poorer characters: Stan, the handsome waiter Charlie discusses Fitzgerald with, and Nick, newly returned from Dartmouth for the summer; he’s Tommy’s disgraced ex-doctor father’s former intern. Viewed from above, it’s a Busby Berkeley ballet, country-club style: Characters couple; they part; they rearrange and couple again according to some unheard, rich-people gavotte. At the dismal center is Camilla’s suicide, which Alice thinks was foul play. Peloquin can write, there’s no question, and the dialectic she sets up between rich and poor is an interesting one, when her characters aren’t bitching at each other.

No one will read these books for the mystery, which is so glacially developed it’s easy to forget, what with all the sex, drugs and misery. (Chick-lit/mystery. 14 & up)

Pub Date: June 18, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59514-566-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2013

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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An unsettling but easy-to-read blend of social media savvy and gritty gumshoe work.

14 WAYS TO DIE

A teen sleuth tries livestreaming to catch a murderer.

Seventeen-year-old Jessica Simmons lost her mother a decade ago, the first victim of the Magpie Man, a serial killer now on victim No. 13, who has struck in locations around the U.K. Her father’s life is still in shambles and her former friends are long gone, but Jessica’s decided to publicize her tragedy. One of five contestants on YouTube’s “The Eye”—an unscripted, livestreamed reality show—Jessica asks her viewers to help identify the serial killer. But inviting the world into her home and school brings unwanted attention, perhaps even from the Magpie Man, whose body count keeps climbing: Sleuthing-related drama and peril ensue. Jessica’s friends and family are economically rendered yet believable, and Ralph renders grief beautifully and devastatingly, as something that evolves but doesn’t end. As in the story, the bulk of the action occurs when the cameras aren’t rolling, and eventually, the reality show premise and its minimally developed contestants are more a distraction and transparent deus ex machina than an integral part of Jessica’s journey. More intriguing—and with real-life precedents—is the possibility of crowdsourcing a murder investigation. Although the fast-paced finale can’t quite overcome the slow start and overlong middle, the tale reaches a dramatic, satisfactory conclusion. Characters follow a White default.

An unsettling but easy-to-read blend of social media savvy and gritty gumshoe work. (resources, author interview) (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72823-186-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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