A jaded teen’s life takes an exciting turn after a new friend ropes her into his investigation of a local kidnapping.
Zoe Webster, 16, is still dealing with the “lifestyle demotion” of moving from Brooklyn to upstate New York due to her parents’ divorce when Philip Digby shows up at her front door. Fast-talking, suit-wearing Digby is an exasperating teenage Sherlock—sharply observant, impatient with social niceties, and unafraid of authority figures—and he believes Zoe can help him discover what really happened to Marina Miller, a rich teenager who disappeared from a slumber party over the summer. Lonely and bored, Zoe puts up only a token resistance, and it’s not long before she and Digby are brawling with cultists, breaking into locked buildings, and interviewing drug dealers as they pursue the truth. Debut novelist Tromly wears her influences on her sleeves, and fans of Veronica Mars and Elementary will find much to like here. Zoe’s sarcastic first-person narration is fresh and funny, and the zippy dialogue makes it easy to forgive a few moments when the action-packed plot strains readers’ credulity. The highly stereotypical depiction of Felix, an Asian-American supporting character, is a notable exception to the generally solid characterization.
Despite some flaws, an offbeat and entertaining caper. (Mystery. 13-18)