Scarborough’s debut mystery novel follows a teenager on a journey to find her mother’s killer.
The only memories Erin (who is white) has of her mother can be found in the police reports detailing the circumstances of her death. When Erin was 2, her mother was murdered and the killer got away. Now 16, Erin has been studying forensics with the goal of one day solving the murder. She finds an ally in her biology teacher, Miss P, but when Erin discovers her teacher’s dead body, she suspects this may be the work of her mother’s killer. Things are further complicated when Erin’s crush, Journey (also white), becomes tangled up in the case as a possible suspect. Realizing the bond between them, the two team up to investigate the case with help from Erin’s resourceful friends, Spam and Lysa. Cue the clunky murder attempts on Erin’s life, suspicious adults, and convenient clues. While Erin is a character that readers can easily sympathize with as she struggles to grapple with her dark past, some of the novel’s other characters are not fully fleshed out. Spam and Lysa have the potential to be spunky sidekicks but come off as two-dimensional, the former possibly Latina and a funky dresser and the latter flawlessly golden-skinned and dressed to the nines. The plot has the potential to be gripping but doesn’t deliver any surprises—not even the killer's identity.
Despite its interesting premise, this debut falls short of its potential. (Mystery. 14-18)