When his friend goes missing, Zack Bernard realizes her disappearance is not the only mystery.
The story focuses on Zack, a West Indian–Canadian teen living in Toronto who’s a fan of true-crime shows and plans to become a detective. When his friend Ella Larson disappears, Zack can’t let the police be the only ones investigating—especially because he knows something the police don’t: Zack saw Ella with his guidance-counselor father at the mall and, later, getting into his car. Afraid to jeopardize his father’s job, Zack withholds this information. Zack’s dad refuses to talk to him about what he saw, his friend Ayo Mohammed thinks he needs to respect the confidentiality of his father’s records, and they both think Zack should let the police handle everything. But his gut instinct says something terrible happened to Ella, and Zack’s going to do everything he can to find out what it is even if he finds out something he didn’t want to know. A challenge with hi-lo books is displayed with this title: The plot is too complex for the format, forcing an overly tidy and sanitized conclusion to the central mystery. However, readers will definitely keep turning the pages; Zack’s and Ayo’s immigrant families provide some subtle characterization for each of them.
For reluctant readers with a taste for crime, this title should scratch the itch. (Mystery/thriller. 12-18)