An elite Atlanta prep school harbors shocking and deadly secrets.
At Winship Academy, the Mystery Club has only two members: Benny, one of the only Jewish students in the entire school, and gossipmongering Virginia, a boarder in the school's crumbling dorms. When popular, blonde Brittany plummets off a bridge, the Mystery Club is on the case. What they discover, however, is a disquieting web of murder, obsession, and sex crimes. Rape and child pornography are breezily discussed and seem to be given almost no gravitas; the perpetrator of the rape and murder faces no punishment, even after Benny and Virginia deduce who did it. Benny concludes, "What the world needed more than justice was truth" instead of reporting it to the authorities. Even more frustratingly, among the nearly all-white student body, the only people who commit crimes in this book are people of color. It will be hard for readers to find anyone to latch onto, as the characters are almost uniformly repellent, including Benny and Virginia. Their ability to shrug off the seriousness of the crimes they investigate in order to solve them seems positively sociopathic. The mystery itself is implausible, and that failing combines with the careless treatment of victims and loathsome characterizations to create an offering that’s both repugnant and infuriating.
Don’t just skip this, run from it. (Mystery. 13 & up)