These YA mysteries place intriguing characters in well-realized settings, exploring secrets, lies, and even murders.
My Flawless Life by Yvonne Woon (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins, Feb. 14): It’s hard growing up in the public eye, as Hana Yang Lerner knows all too well. Her father had to resign as a senator from Virginia following a public scandal. Since then, she’s become a pariah at her Washington, D.C., prep school—though her classmates from high-powered families secretly hire her to make their problems go away. When an anonymous client involves her in a case that’s connected to Luce Herrera, her ex–best friend, Hana gets drawn into an intense mystery, one filled with unexpected twists and revelations.
A Long Stretch of Bad Days by Mindy McGinnis (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins, March 14): Ohio senior Lydia has a podcast, On the Ground in Flyover Country, that she hopes will impress Ivy League admissions officers. It’s also the chance for her to earn her missing history credit and graduate on time. Sheltered overachiever Lydia recruits earthy, hilarious, working-class Bristal, who is in the same academic predicament, to help her explore the town’s history for the podcast. Their research uncovers disturbing information about a missing girl, made more fraught by the close-knit small-town dynamics and the community’s culture of not making waves.
Good as Gold by Candace Buford (Disney-Hyperion, June 6): Casey Whitecroft was one of the few Black kids among the mostly white social elite, but then her dad declared bankruptcy, and now she’s a server at the country club where they used to be members. Her picturesque Georgia town draws in tourists, but beneath the quaint sights and romantic tales about lost pirates’ gold is another story, one embedded in aspects of the town’s history many would prefer to keep covered up. A mysterious old coin becomes the catalyst for Casey to dig deeper and uncover dangerous truths.
Grim by Sara B. Elfgren, translated by Judith Kiros (Arctis Books, June 20): Kasper Nordin is spending his summer in the dark, working in the House of Demons at an amusement park. His co-worker Iris is a massive fan of legendary 1980s Swedish death metal band Dark Cruelty. She’s thrilled to discover that Kasper’s dad is Håkan, the band’s bassist, and that he was named after lead singer Kasper “Grim” Johansson, who died mysteriously at 19, leading to the band’s breakup. Rumors abound—but Håkan won’t talk. When Kasper starts dreaming about Grim, he and Iris decide to investigate his death.
Suddenly a Murder by Lauren Muñoz (Putnam, Sept. 5): The setting: a weeklong high school graduation celebration in an old mansion on a private island in Maine. The cast: seven teenagers from an elite prep school kitted out in authentic 1920s clothing and separated from their electronic devices. The surprise twist: one dead body. Izzy Morales, the daughter of a Marian Academy teacher, lives a modest life compared to her jet-setting classmates. The surprise getaway arranged by her BFF, Kassidy, takes a tragic turn, however, when Kassidy’s boyfriend, Blaine, is found stabbed to death in his room. Flashbacks and police interrogations reveal the young suspects’ secrets and complicated dynamics.
Laura Simeon is a young readers’ editor.