Edgar Award

Book Review: In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood
Author: 
Capote, Truman
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Holcomb, Kansas 1959, the Clutter family was brutally murdered and no one knew who or why they did it. Truman Capote wrote this book as a novel, with dialogue between the murderers and the family; although he was not there, he gathered as much information about the murder as possible and was able to turn it into a book instead of a document. Moving on, the story follows the life of the Clutter family before and after they were murdered, however it focuses more on Richard Hickock and Perry Smith, the murderers of the Clutters. In need of cash, and fast, Hickock calls his old jail friend Perry Smith and they decide to execute a robbery of the Clutter family, who they thought were rich. After invading the house and finding no cash, they dispose of the Clutters, rid of the clues, and escape the law for as long as they could. I love this book since it enables the reader to have a mystery going on in their head and also because murder was uncommon back in 1959, so it enables the reader to feel how it was to hear of a major crime, such as this, back then. I recommend this book to every reader out there, it was very well written and one of the most amazing “New Journalism” type of books, as Capote said.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Joe T.

Book Review: Murder at Brightwell

Murder at Brightwell
Author: 
Weaver, Ashley
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Amory Ames has left her philandering husband for a vacation by the sea with her erstwhile fiance on the pretense of talking his younger sister out of marrying her dastardly fiance. After a day of vacation, the dastardly fiance is murdered and the erstwhile fiance is suspect #1. Amory is convinced her old fiance is innocent, and works to clear his name.

At first, I was not at all sold on this book. The beginning is very slow and weighed down by constant descriptions of the sartorial choices of the many characters. The main character also initially comes off as a bit of a prickly doormat. Fortunately, about halfway through the book, the pacing picks up, the story gets really interesting, and our main character gets much less annoying. Her relationship with her husband, however, never ceases to be annoying because...did people not talk to each other in 1930s England? It was an unapologetically unhealthy relationship that was ultimately frustrating to read and was left (purposefully) unresolved at the end.

I don't read a ton of mysteries, but this one ended up being a lot of fun! Its kind of like an old school mystery where there is a cast of characters/suspects in one setting and you KNOW one of them did it...but which one? Based on what other readers have said, it's Agatha Christie-esque. I was able to guess the "who" but not the "why", and the book ended up being entertaining enough that I immediately checked out the sequel, Death Wears a Mask. I'd recommend it to mystery lovers who like their mysteries with a historical setting and a touch of fashion. 3 stars.

Reviewer's Name: 
Britt
Awards: 

Book Review: Paper Towns

Paper Towns
Author: 
Green, John
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Quentin, or Q, has had a crush on Margo for ages. So when she invites him out on a night full of revenge, he agrees to help her. After the night is over, Margo disappears. Q finds a trail of clues that she's left behind and vows to find her. After all, it is what she wanted. Right?

I liked this book. I found the subject of paper towns to be fascinating. I like how the author decided to incorporate them into his story.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: 
Alex M.

Book Review: Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity
Author: 
Wein, Elizabeth
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Actual rating is 3.5 stars

This book has an intriguing premise. A British young woman, apparently a spy (code name "Verity") being held captive in occupied France, tells the story of her espionage career and subsequent capture. In an attempt to avoid further torture and prolong death at the hands of her captors, she promises to reveal secret codes that are related to British intelligence. The first half of the book is written in first person as a journal of sorts addressing her captors. The style itself works fairly well, but the narrative voice is annoying -- I found the main character to be insufferably conceited, rather than brazen and confident (as she was probably intended to be). She was not likable, and thus I didn't care much about her fate. Until...

...the second half.

A new narrator takes over -- Verity's friend and pilot Maddie. She was the one flying the plane that brought Verity to France. She is less uppity, less conceited, and altogether more relatable and likable. She tells the other side of the girls' story -- her training as a pilot, her friendship with Verity, and what happens to her when Verity is captured. I found myself rooting for her all the way. She also managed to make Verity more likable, and as more is revealed, I discovered that I enjoyed them both. By the end of the book, I saw both of them as exceptionally brave characters to be respected and admired.

Although this book is fiction, there are many references to real-life WWII intelligence operations, and plenty of mechanical details concerning planes that are also interesting. The book improves significantly as it progresses -- if you don't like the first half, wait for the second. Anyone who is interested in history or espionage will probably like this. Additionally, it develops into a beautiful story of the power of friendship and sacrifice, but is never sappy. I probably wouldn't read it again, at least not for a while, but it is definitely worth trying.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: 
Caroline K.

Book Review: Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity
Author: 
Wein, Elizabeth
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This book is about Verity, a spy imprisoned by the Nazis during WWII who agrees to write everything she knows down for them, just to buy time. I found the format very interesting in this book. Although it was slow and seemingly pointless at the beginning, the little details all come together in the end to complete the story. Even though the ending may appear predictable, it is pulled off in a surprising way. I liked the characters in this book; most of their personalities were well developed and there were some plot twists about them revealed later in the book.

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: 
Camille A.

Book Review: Speak

Speak
Author: 
Anderson, Laurie Halse
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Speak is about a girl named Melinda who was raped at a party. She calls the police, but is unable to tell angry partygoers why she did it. As she struggles with her secret, she eventually stops talking. The book follows her as she overcomes her past and finds her voice.

I liked the book. Nothing in it really amazed me, but it wasn't a bad read.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: 
Alex M.

Book Review: Paper Towns

Paper Towns
Author: 
Green, John
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This mystery novel centers on the life of a high school senior, Quentin, and his complicated relationship with his neighbor, Margo. After years of not even speaking to each other, Margo appears at Quentin’s window, and they spend a wild night playing pranks and getting revenge on their friends and enemies. However, the next day, Margo disappears. I picked the book because I have read other novels by John Green, who often incorporates both deep and philosophical themes and hilarious humor in great novels. Paper Towns in particular is incredibly thought-provoking and the character development of Margo as both mysterious yet relatable is superb. This book did surprise me given the typical mystery set-up, and was definitely one of the best books I have read this year.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: 
Selena Z.

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