Reviews of Teen Books by Genre: Mystery

McKevett, G. A.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

The Moonlight Magnolia Detective Agency has a new case that takes them up in
the world to famous actor Ethan Malloy. His wife and child have gone missing,
and he's counting on Savannah and the rest of the agency to return them safe
and sound. The case is already a dire one, but when the family's nanny is
found murdered near a forest trail, the situation becomes even more severe.
Savannah is rushing both to find Ethan's family and catch the nanny's killer
before another victim is claimed. With paparazzi swarming at every turn and
evidence that leads to more dead ends than not, this is shaping up to be
Savannah's deadliest chase yet. Will she be able to apprehend the culprit
before the final seconds of the clock tick down?

G.A. McKevett released two novels in 2018; this one and the first novel in a
spinoff series. While I personally find this book to be the one of lesser
quality, it's not by much at all. The mystery is handled in a phenomenal
light, and I was off my seat with anticipation of what would come next. It
all ended with a culprit I didn't expect, but was obvious in hindsight, which
I feel is a clever way to go about a culprit in a mystery. The side plot with
Tammy's parents was also handled really well. However, the reason I feel like
this was the lesser novel is because I felt like it often relied too much on
exposition to drive the mystery forward, which kind of beats the storytelling
purpose of "show, don't tell". However, I still consider this one of G.A.
McKevett's best works to date, and I absolutely recommend it to anyone and

Reviewer's Name: Naomi S.
Book Cover
Levine, Laura
4 stars = Really Good

Jaine Austen is relieved to receive a gift trip to the Haven, a luxury resort
along the California coast, from her flamboyantly gay neighbor Lance.
However, upon arriving there, she realizes that the Haven is a fat
farm in disguise run by Olga, the Diet Nazi (her words and not mine). She's
sharing her "luxury vacation" with Mallory Francis, a famous movie star, and
her staff. While gracing the big screens is Mallory's job, her true calling seems to
be making enemies with everyone she comes across. So when Mallory is found
strangled by a piece of kelp during a seaweed wrap, the suspect list is
longer than Rapunzel's hair with added extensions. Not wanting to spend any
longer in Diet Hell than necessary (and yes, she does call the Haven that),
Jaine puts on her detective slippers once again to catch a culprit once
again. However, this will prove to be Jaine's most challenging cases yet, and
her chase to catch the culprit will put her life on the line more than ever

Let me just get this off my chest. I-love-this series! It's so well-written,
and never ceases to amuse me. I love how this series waits until later than
most for the murder to happen,making the reader make assumptions on who the
culprit is before the murder takes place. However, every book I've read from
this series so far has a major flaw. While the actual investigation for each
book is individually unique, the main climax always follows the same format.
It goes as follows:

1) Jaine is left with no clear culprit until she remembers a piece of
evidence she missed
2) The person who seems like the furthest thing from the culprit is always
the culprit
3) Just as Jaine finds the culprit, they try to kill her
4) Something saves Jaine last-minute
5) The culprit is arrested

This book is no different. I really wish Laura Levine would break away from
this format, as it makes the series very repetitive. However, I just hope she
does it in future mysteries. But overall, I'd highly recommend this mystery,
especially for a good laugh. The mystery kept me guessing while still keeping
me relaxed, Jaine Austen is the most relatable protagonist ever, the sub-plot
with her parents is hilarious in an "I really shouldn't be laughing at this"
kind of way, and Prozac is-well, Prozac! Just make sure to have something to
strangle with (noose, execution chain, chimichanga, whatever suits you),
because I assure you that no Jaine Austen mystery has made me want to
strangle Lance more than this one by the end. You have been warned.

Reviewer's Name: Naomi S.
Book Cover
Harrington, Kim
4 stars = Really Good

Clarity, by author Kim Harrington, is a gripping mystery novel about a sixteen-year-old young woman named Clarity, or "Clary". A normal teenager on the outside, Clarity possesses a talent for seeing the stories in objects: merely touch one and she sees visions related to the owner and what circumstances the object has been in. When a murder occurs in the small seaside town in which Clary lives, she teams up with the police and must dig deep into her own talents and the town's secrets in order to solve the mystery.

I enjoyed this book. While the writing is more of a middle-school level, the themes are for older teenagers. Thus, I would recommend this book to any reader over sixteen. The book is not overly long, and I finished it in under a day.

Reviewer's Name: Rebecca D.
Murder Among the Pines
Reynolds, John
3 stars = Pretty Good

This mystery novel tells the story of a police chief who is responsible for investigating the death of a young woman. She slowly tries to piece together the pieces of the puzzle in order to clear the name of her innocent ex-husband. This story is told in a very fluid manner. At no point does anything move too fast to understand, but nothing is unexpected either making the story a tad less interesting than some other mystery books.
Overall, it is still a really good book if you're looking for a non-horror mystery novel.

Reviewer's Name: Kyle Y
Detective Cross
Patterson, James
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

Packed with action and intensity, Detective Cross is a mystery-action that will have you on the edge of your seat for the entire duration of the book.
The plot starts with a bomber planting bombs in national parks. Police search and defuse the bombs, only for more to be planted the next day. The serial bomber keeps on planting more and more, with the authorities always a step behind. I would highly recommend this book, as it had me on edge the whole time, with its accurate details and action packed plot. Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Kyle Y
Killer Cocktail
Kiely, Tracy
4 stars = Really Good

In this story, Nic and Nigel, who are Hollywood celebrities found some clips from the set of A Winter’s Night. Which is a movie from 2 decades ago known because of the great story and the behind the scenes drama, including the death of a celebrity. But a burglary occurs, convincing the couple that there may be someone on those clips who doesn’t want to be seen. The book is filled with gossip about fictional stars who are always at each other's throats, and a dog who is also in on the fun. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a good mystery.

Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Kyle Y
Lutz, Lisa
4 stars = Really Good

Alexandra Witt doesn’t take a position as an English teacher at the not-that-illustrious- boarding school Stonebridge with the aim to turn the institution on its head, but that’s exactly what she does. After witnessing some distressing interactions between the boys and the girls at school, Witt encourages the women to stand up for themselves. The boys, of course, aren’t having that, and before they all know it,an all-out gender war is taking place at Stonebridge and all involved are hurtling toward an unhappy ending.

This was so much fun! First, the gender politics were spot on. This is definitely a book for the “Me Too” era. I went to a public school, but I can totally see a scaled down version of this sort of thing happening there, or, unfortunately, anywhere. Lutz handles some very sensitive topics pretty deftly, and creates engaging and authentic characters. Foreshadowing early in the book makes it pretty clear that things will end badly, and I found myself racing through the book to find out what happened. The end was pretty weak: the story, while not exactly grounded, felt believable until suddenly it felt like an episode of Riverdale or Gossip Girl or…pick any teen show on the CW, I guess.

TLDR: If you are looking for a suspenseful read with some feminist flavorings, you won’t go wrong here. Older teens will find a lot to like here as well. 4 stars – I really enjoyed it.

Thanks to Ballantine Books and Netgalley for the eARC which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. The Swallows will be released on 13 August, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
A Void the Size of the World
Alpine, Rachele
1 star = Yuck!

If there was one word to describe this book it would definitely be "yuck". It's like when Squiduard took over Spongebob's shift for a day and instead of a krabby patty he fried a boot. It has absolutely no plot. there is paranormal activity that we never figure out and we don't know what happened to Abby. If i could rate this a -10/10 I would.

Reviewer's Name: Vincent D
The Girl in the Picture
Monir, Alexandra
1 star = Yuck!

The Girl in the Photo is of the mystery genre but nowhere in this book could I find anything mysterious. From the beginning of the book I wanted to throw it out the window. The writing is so overdramatized and so typical hollywood highschool that nothing in it could be called suspenseful.
The writing is simple, juvenile, and overly predictable that you can pretty much guess ‘who done it’ in the first few chapters. I would not wish this book on anyone.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K
Bad Luck
Bosch, Pseudonymous
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

Bad luck is an amazing book showing lots of humour, fantasy and fun.
Clay is playing a regular game of capture the flag at his camp, Earth-ranch which is on a volcanic island when the vog (volcanic smog) gets so thick that he can't find his way back to camp. Clay then finds his way to a cave that has art of dragons and a book telling their secrets. Clay then finds someone who washed up on shore because his dad pushed him off a cruise ship. The cruise ship then docks at the island saying they are looking for the kid but really looking for a dragon. Clay makes friends with the washed up kid and they find the dragon and make an alliance with it.

Reviewer's Name: Vincent D
Myers, Walter Dean
4 stars = Really Good

This book is an interesting and suspenseful novel. It is filled to the brim with moments that will have readers on the edge of their seat. Monster also is written in a unique format, in the form of a movie script written my the protagonist Steve Harmon, who is awaiting trial for a crime he didn’t commit. This story is written with intense figurative language that paints a terrifying image depicting the horrors of prison. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great suspenseful read. Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Kyle Y
Paper Towns
Green, John
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

Have you ever had someone in your life just leave or disappear? Quentin was best friends with Margo Roth Speilleman. One day when they we around seven years old they found a dead body laying against a tree. Years later they are seniors in high school and are not as good as friends anymore. Graduation is nearing and people are turning out reckless. One night Margo convinces Quentin to go help prank her cheating boyfriend and her backstabbing best friend who her boyfriend was cheating on her with. After that night Margo suddenly goes missing and Quentin ends up falling in love with her. Soon he finds that Margo left clues for him to crack and hopefully find her! This book will have you wrapped up in romance, mystery, comedey, and adventure.

Reviewer's Name: Lilyana B.
There's Someone Inside Your House
Perkins, Stephanie
3 stars = Pretty Good

It's been almost a year since Makani Young came to live with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska, and she's still adjusting to her new life. And still haunted by her past in Hawaii. Then, one by one, the students of her small town high school begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer. Makani will be forced to confront her own dark secrets.

"There's Someone Inside Your House" is a compelling book that at times feels impossible to put down. Stephanie Perkins excels at writing fast reads and this book is no exception. Being my first time reading one of her books I have to say that I wasn't disappointed, but I also wasn't won over. If your looking for a complex horror novel, this is not the book for you. It's murder plot is very straightforward and its essentially about a serial killer terrorizing a town. The beginning of the book was my favorite part, the murders were slow and calculated, each one more interesting then the last and the characters were brand new so I was still suspicious about all of them. Not knowing who I could trust made the beginning my favorite part, but once the killer is revealed and the action starts to speed up my interest began to decrease. My main problems with the book was the serial killer's baffling motivation and lackluster reveal. I also thought Makani's mysterious past was brought up way too much to be believable. In almost every chapter she worries "do they know about my past?" "could he have found out what I've done?" and when it actually is revealed what she did, her constant worry seems all the more unrealistic. I wished her two friends would have been more developed, especially Darby. I felt like they were both pushed to the background to make way for Ollie's development. That being said I did enjoy Alex, Darby's, Makani's interaction/friendship. And I think Makani makes an interesting protagonist. Her mysterious past adds intrigue and any references to her childhood in Hawaii feel genuine and well-researched. Ollie is also unique and likeable. All in all it was different sort of book for me, I doubt hardcore mystery or horror fans would enjoy it, but if your looking for a simple YA slasher then I think you would enjoy this.

Reviewer's Name: Zion
Doll Bones
Black, Holly
4 stars = Really Good

"Doll Bones" by Holly Black is about three friends who go on a journey to return a haunted doll to her grave after taking it out of one of their mom's china cabinets. Zach, Poppy, and Alice play a role-play game in which the doll is "the queen'. The doll is made from a young girl's bones and her wishes are to be returned with her family at the grave site so all three of them go on an extensive journey to do so. In the process Zach, Poppy, and Alice meet strange people which leads them to almost give up.

I would recommend this book. "Doll Bones" was really fun to re-read and was just as exciting as the first. Originally, I read the book for Battle of the Books in third grade but I read it again because I liked it. I couldn't relate to the characters however I think other people could. "Doll Bones" is not predictable and was not the best book I have read this year despite it still being a good book.

Reviewer's Name: Oriana O.
One Of Us Is Lying
McManus, Karen M.
4 stars = Really Good

Five students walk into detention one day, but only four make it out alive.

One of Us is Lying follows the gripping story of Bronwyn, Addy, Nate, and Cooper as suspects in the murder of Simon Kelleher. Each of the high school students have secrets that they would do anything to protect, so how far would they go to make sure they’re kept out of the spotlight?

I liked this book because it delved into the personalities and thoughts of each individual suspect to keep the reader guessing who did it until the very end. Overall, One of Us is Lying is a surprising and engaging book that was hard to put down. I especially liked how each perspective of the characters was described in depth so that the audience was not left out of the storytelling. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves murder mysteries and young adult fiction.

One of Us is Lying is a teenage-take on themes as dark as murder and depression, and although other writers are unsuccessful in developing such deep plots for a younger audience, Karen M. McManus writes with an enjoyable voice that establishes her story very effectively that, additionally, is targeted well toward a young adult audience. So, if you’re wanting to sit down and unravel a complex and grounded mystery, you should check out One of Us is Lying.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Anya G
Storm Front
Butcher, Jim
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

Strom Front serves as a stellar introduction to the exciting world of Harry Dresden. The first book in a long series of great books, Storm Front showcases Butcher's writing prowess. The story is full of interesting characters, well developed story, gritty mysteries, and the overarching wit of the main character. Storm Front is at once entertaining, humorous, and occasionally touching. It is one of those books that somehow becomes glued to your hands and only relinquishes them upon arrival at the back cover.
Overall, the book will most definitely be an enjoyable read and make picking the next three to four books to read an easy choice (although I recommend not attempting more than a few in a row for the sake of variety).

Reviewer's Name: Evan
Four Dead Queens
Scholte, Astrid
2 stars = Meh

This book was not for me, but I think a lot of young adults will really love it. The following is essentially a laundry list of my issues. First, the worldbuilding was pretty weak. The fours quadrants are fairly reminiscent of those in Divergent, but they rarely interact and the farming sector basically works on Amish rules while the technological sector has holographs and advanced biosuits and all sorts of stuff. It does not make a ton of sense. And neither does the “queenly law” or really anything to do with the rules the palace or kingdom operates under – it all seemed pretty transparently created to serve the story that was written. Moving along. The characters really left something to be desired. Most were one-dimensional. The main character, Keralie, couldn’t make a good decision if her life depended on it and falls squarely into the snarky and ostensibly clever thief trope. We do get to hear from the queens a bit, but as I knew they’d end up dead and we only spent a little time with each of them, I didn’t find that it added to the story. And, of course, there is instalove between Keralie and our extremely boring male lead, Varin.

Some components of the book are pretty enjoyable. I think the premise is really cool (if executed poorly). The first queen’s murder took me a bit by surprise, and was deliciously gruesome. There were a few twists that I didn’t see coming. I quite liked the last 50 pages or so – the author, a debut, clearly has some really great ideas. Unfortunately, they didn’t come together in this book, though I’d try another book by this author pending favorable reviews.

TLDR: Readers who loved The Red Queen and Divergent will probably enjoy this one as well. I couldn’t get past the weak characters and worldbuilding, but I think a lot of readers will likely devour this one nonetheless. For me, it was just ok. 2 stars.

Thanks to Netgalley and G. Putnam’s Sons for the advance copy which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. Four Dead Queens will be released on 26 February.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
A Study in Charlotte
Cavallaro, Brittany
4 stars = Really Good

A new take on Holmes and Watson, two teens in an American boarding school bond over their family's shared history. Both of them are descended from the infamous Sherlock Holmes and his infamous partner Watson, and they find a way to live up to their history. They become detectives of their own stories when they are framed for murder. Thrilling and exciting, the story of Charlotte and Jamie kept me captivated with every turn of the page. I am sure readers who enjoy mystery and romance alike will enjoy it. Recommended for ages 15+
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Settare R
Ink and Ashes
Maetani, Valynne E.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

I love this book! I am in 7th grade and this book gave me goosebumps and look behind me when I'm turned around in fear of the "evil" characters in this book. (Granted, I get scared very easily). Ink and Ashes tells the story of teenage girl Claire Takata, and her horrifying experience that was brought upon her by her dead father's passing and his sketchy life. This story perfectly blends mystery and Japanese culture, and is one of the most unique mystery books I have ever read. I highly recommend this book for mature middle school readers who don't read much mystery and want to "test the waters". However, all kinds of readers from 6th grade and up would enjoy this book! Don't hesitate to try it out!

Reviewer's Name: Anna C.
Al Capone Does My Homework
Choldenko, Gennifer
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

Al Capone Does My Homework finishes off an amazing book series to read. This book is action packed and includes gambling, stolen belongings, and counterfeit money. Al Capone plays a surprising role in this story and saves someone's life. Moose's relationships with his friends are further developed in this novel, and his father is promoted which puts Moose's family in even more danger. This book is spectacular and filled with action. It is a very good closing to the series and gives all readers a different perspective of Al Capone.

Reviewer's Name: Miles