PLAYING MURDER by Sandra Scoppettone


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A group of teenagers is playing murder when one of them is found actually murdered. On this tacky premise Scoppettone constructs a routine story of fear and detection. It is told by 17-year-old Anna, whose family has moved to Maine after her twin brother Bill was caught stealing football-uniform money from their New Jersey high school. (Why did he do it? He felt bad about being short.) Anna is especially distressed by the murder, because the victim is gorgeous Kirk, whom she has been seeing behind his girlfriend Charlotte's back. Did Charlotte find out and kill Kirk out of jealousy? Or was it Anna's old New Jersey boyfriend Tony, who arrived uninvited on the night of the murder and might have seen Anna kissing Kirk just moments before the crime occurred? And if so, is Anna now in danger, as Tony's moody, jealous behavior might suggest? Or is it one of the other murder players? When brother Bill is arrested for the crime and Anna turns detective to clear him, she finds reason to suspect each of the other kids, in turn. For one thing, several of them hated Kirk, and in looking into their motives Anna finds out what a rotten character her dreamboat really was. Scoppettone keeps readers guessing, but her manner of shifting suspicion, with Anna interviewing and suspecting each in turn, is as mechanical and perfunctory as Kirk's cardboard villainy. So is Anna's obligatory scary confrontation with the killer at the end. Also, too much lame rumination on Anna's part to make this more than fitfully tense.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1985
Publisher: Harper & Row