A young woman who assists with her dad’s private-investigation business is drawn to a stormy newcomer in this mystery that features glimmers of Austen’s revered tale.
Headstrong Berry is often charged with spying on the errant husbands of her father’s clients, which has left her skeptical about relationships. She and her father have also endured years of grief over her mother’s unexpected death, ruled a suicide by the police. So when Berry begins to suspect that her best friend Mary Chris’ dad may have been somehow involved, she initiates a clandestine investigation that lands her between two guys new to her school: the seemingly friendly, helpful Drew and the gorgeous but complicated Tanner. It also opens a rift between her and Mary Chris, who is enraptured with Tanner’s stepbrother, Ryan. Berry is a likable, tough character whose acerbic wit is tempered by moments of vulnerability layered in her internal dialogue. Many other characters are less well-developed, though romance fans will relish the smoldering between Berry and Tanner. Mary Chris and Berry’s friend Jason is often very funny (at one point he’s described as making a gesture “between jazz hands and some kind of seizure”), but at times, he feels a little stereotyped in the gay-best-friend role.
Fun and tightly plotted, if a bit formulaic. (Mystery. 13 & up)