In Scott’s (Hear the Wolves, 2017, etc.) YA thriller, a teenager investigates the disappearance of his girlfriend.
When 17-year-old Molly Bates goes missing, the police immediately identify her 18-year-old boyfriend, Cobain, as the primary suspect. He’s a quick-tempered, weight lifting loner who dresses all in black and has a tattoo of a crow on his arm—and he genuinely has no idea what happened to her: “Molly is gone,” he thinks, panicked, “and they’re in here talking to me when they should be combing the streets, the woods, the mountains.” Molly and Cobain had been planning on running away together, but she never showed up to their planned rendezvous. Now he needs to figure out what happened to the love of his life—not only to reunite with her, but also in order to clear his name. The problem is that Molly is still very mysterious to him; she knows how to read and manipulate other people, but she keeps her secrets to herself. As Cobain questions the other people in Molly’s life—her parents, her friends—he can’t help but wonder whether he’s being manipulated himself. The story effectively leaps between Cobain’s past and present, although after a certain point, Molly also becomes a third-person point-of-view character, adding further complexities to the plot. Scott’s controlled prose perfectly summons the dramatic pitch of teenage thought; for example, in this passage, Cobain remembers his thoughts on the day of his and Molly’s first meeting: “I may have hated you for smiling at me because it opened this horrendous hope inside of me, and it was impossible to push it back into place. It was a hernia, that hope. A rabid animal that needed trapping.” Indeed, at times such emotional excesses may make it difficult for adult readers to take the novel seriously. Despite this, though, the book is a true page-turner with an enjoyable, serpentine narrative.
A tightly constructed YA mystery.