Tag Archives: murder mystery

Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham

18713071.jpgScarlett Undercover

Orphaned and living with her older sister working as a nursing student, fifteen-year-old amateur private detective Scarlett takes a case from Gemma Archer, who is convinced her older brother killed his best friend. However, the media reported that Quinn Johnson killed himself. While keeping an eye on Gemma for her safety since her parents are frequently absent, Scarlett finds Gemma’s brother Oliver to be as creepy as he sounds, embroiled within a secret cult. During her investigating, she discovers the cult has roots that link to her own family, and she might be in a lot of danger.

Part of an effort to include more diversity in YA literature, Jennifer Latham wrote this exciting novel about a young Muslim American, including references to cultural myths, magic, and language. Having been compared to that hit teen detective of the 2000’s Veronica Mars, Scarlett comes with elements of sassy attitude, independence, and determination. Despite saying she’s 15, her voice actually seems younger and less capable, perhaps because to the reader, she’s not yet established her credibility as a detective. Additionally, Scarlett’s romantic relationship with Decker felt the most flat along with a few minor side characters. Otherwise, this murder mystery is unique, unpredictable, engaging, and best for older middle grades/younger high school teens, especially reluctant readers who are searching for books that reflect cultural diversity.


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Pretty Crooked trilogy by Elisa Ludwig

9780062066077 Pretty Crooked

Willa Fox has just moved to a dream town and sent to a fantastically rich school. There, she manages to befriend the Glitterati, a trio of very rich girls who dictate the highest social status. To even some of the score when a few of the scholarship girls are mercilessly targeted by the Glitterati, Willa recruits Tre, a reformed juvenile delinquent, to teach her a few criminal skills and begins stealing from the rich to give a little more back to those less fortunate, a more junior and modern day Robin Hood. When she gets caught, though, she finds she’s bitten off more than she can chew because not only is she facing social ostracism, but her mom is behaving weirdly too and suddenly disappears.

13146824 Pretty Sly

Willa must face the consequences of her actions despite having a missing mother. However, she can’t just abandon her mom. Breaking her parole, she and her friend, Aidan, set off to find Willa’s mom. With the help of the social media Sly Fox fan club, currently trending, led by their friends Tre and Cherise, Willa and Aidan have cash and make sympathetic young friends everywhere. They also add more crimes to their already long list, and discover just why Willa’s mom is running and who is out to get her. In finding her mom, Willa comes to discover many truths about herself and her past, and this is just enough to put her in a lot of danger.

22584503 Pretty Wanted

Willa is now on the run from the police and the FBI, having eluded capture after making a deal for her (former “mother” now revealed to be) sister’s faked death and her new life in Mexico. After finding out her real mom was murdered and that her murderers are still after her and her sister, Leslie, Willa is determined to find out more about her real mom’s life, especially since Willa’s got a one way ticket to juvie if she’s captured. She and Aidan have made it to St. Louis, the last place her family lived and where her real mom was murdered. There she and Aiden, eventually joined by Tre, must follow a trail long cold: discovering a diary, a covered up accident, a robbery, and the secret to her own paternity. But discovering the truth doesn’t mean much when she and Aiden are confronted with death. What will become of the Sly Fox and her friends with determined killers on their tail?

This series was a fairly enjoyable wild ride (read?) born out of desiring justice and exposing the truth that transformed into a heart-stopping race to discover Willa’s real past as her life falls about her ears. From the original premise of a modern girl Robin Hood, it veered way off into a Veronica Mars-esque murder mystery, albeit not as addicting. Many of the background characters are very trope, and Willa seems more like 17 than her 15 years, especially once you consider her relationship with her “mom” and Aiden. My favorite character was Tre, who was both resourceful, funny, and a true friend. He really made the whole thing possible. I can’t say I much enjoyed how the book ended, that’s not to say it ended badly, but there was just a lot to process and a very short time to do so. I also really hated that Aidan ran off, while Willa took responsibility for her actions. Aidan never struck me as that guy who would run off looking like an escaped criminal but more like he would just continue flaunting his reputation as a rich man’s party boy son who does whatever he pleases. Not going to say much about how the mystery is solved, not to ruin this with any spoilers! I would give this series a 3 out of 5, and perfect for mystery-loving middle grades or high school freshmen. It’s likeable but doesn’t have the wow factor to appeal to older teen readers or adults. Finally, this is unimportant, but I still thought Corbin and Leslie should end up together, especially considering Leslie’s past and how that experience must have scarred her. I did really like the covers. The black and white photography is appealing.


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Happy Halloween with Blur by Steven James!


Hello everyone! I have a murder mystery for you in the spirit of Halloween! This is a very clean, but eerily creepy read for those of you who love mysteries.

dca150_94b04db8685949478d368e1b493de768_jpg_srz_333_498_75_22_0_50_1_20_0 Blur

When freshman Emily Jackson is discovered drowned in a lake, junior and all-star quarterback Daniel Byers is saddened but not altogether affected until he somehow sees Emily’s corpse rise up out of her coffin at her funeral and grip his arm, ordering him to discover what happened to her. Everyone sees his collapse, but no one else seems to see the horrifying vision of Emily. Daniel thinks it’s just a fluke, but as he chooses to investigate Emily’s death, along with a new friend Stacy, he finds clues about her death that don’t add up. Suddenly, he is pursuing a murder mystery and an unquenchable thirst for truth, even if he is crazy for seeing Emily’s ‘ghost’. Odd things begin happening to him, and his dad, a policeman, doesn’t know what to make of it either, especially when their dead dog’s bones are discovered on the roof of the car. Meanwhile, Daniel can’t figure out whether he likes Stacy or Nicole, his best friend Kyle is a little suspicious, and college scouts are following his football progress, despite an unfortunate accident during a game. Daniel has to find out what happened to Emily (Who killed her? Why? And especially, why were all these things happening to him? Was he the murderer?), but will finding the truth uncover something worse and what does that mean for his future?

Steven James is the author of two fantastic thriller series for adults, the Patrick Bowers files and the Jevin Banks Experience, and now he’s started this new YA series. Daniel is immediately likeable and solidly independent, and the events surrounding Emily immediately pull you into a fast race of discovery. Readers of all ages will enjoy this mystery, especially since the book is very clean despite the subjects of murder and paranormal events. I can’t wait to read the next book and see what becomes of Daniel and his special abilities. Check out the Blur website and Mr. James’s books. I have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. James in the past, and he gives great talks on the craft of writing.

If gruesome and gore is more your taste, you should try Maureen Johnson’s The Shades of London series, with the first book following a modern day Jack the Ripper. Ick!

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Posted by on October 31, 2014 in YA Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult/Teen


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A Bit of Horror: I Have a Bad Feeling about This by Jeff Strand & Followers by Anna Davies

Here are two somewhat related new horrifying titles. One is a survivalist adventure and the other is a murder mystery.

i have a bad feeling about this I Have a Bad Feeling about This

Perfect for middle school male readers who might not be all that interested in reading, Jeff Strand’s second foray into writing finds a brutally honest, and almost pathetic, nerd of a hero in sixteen-year-old Henry Lambert.

When Henry’s parents pack him off to Strongwoods Survival Camp to make him more of a man than a video-game-playing, scared-of-seahorses couch potato, he finds himself with four other boys and confronted by a seemingly madman named Max, their brutish and no-nonsense camp leader. As they navigate the challenges Max has set for them, Henry seems to perform worse and worse, except at archery and that was just a fluke. Through some funny conversations with himself and imaginary people and the half-chapters where the characters are being interviewed by a crazy reporter, this books is largely ridiculous and is bound to make teens laugh at something or at least be amused. However, turns out Strongwoods Survival Camp just might have had the desired effect after all, which Henry discovers when he’s faced with a real life or death situation and must save not only himself but his fellow campers.

This survival story started off light and amusing, what with a geeky main character who is forced to do something to “become a man”, but ended up into somewhat of a horror situation. I thought that while the story was interesting and might catch male teens attention, Henry was not acting like a sixteen-year-old, rather more of a fourteen-year-old. Other than that, this book might make you laugh out loud at the ridiculousness and unusual situations. Think of a less serious or satiric Holes or possibly a Disney channel movie. It might be good to watch/read, but once is generally enough and the subject matter is never too deep.

Note: There are graphic violence, sexual connotations, language, and alcohol references.

followers Followers

Fans of the theater, Twitter addicts, and lovers of murder mysteries might find this one interesting. Very short read!

Briana “Bree” Beland is in her first year at a new school, MacHale, a prestigious private school that her mother attended before her, and she’s just come back during break for Winterm to snag a part in the Winterm play, Hamlet. When the director suddenly passes away, the new director opens up auditions to include the local public school as well. Suddenly, Bree is on the outs of a part in Hamlet just when she did a fantastic audition as Ophelia. Instead, the new director wants her to be the play’s ‘social media director’ and tweet about everything concerning the play. Briana is disappointed about the role, but she does gain a new follower called “Hamlet’s Ghost”. As other people start mysteriously dying, “Hamlet’s Ghost” begins be goading her and commenting about the murders. It looks as though something horrible might be going on, and Bree caught in the thick of it. Will she catch the killer before it’s too late or will she be next?

Note: Murder mystery so graphic violence. Very little sexual references or language. Alcohol is present.


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Allies & Assassins by Justin Somper

allies & assassins Allies & Assassins

In a fantasy/murder mystery mashup, sixteen-year-old Prince Jared finds himself inheriting a princedom at the death of his elder brother, Prince Anders. He’s not ready to rule and much less ready for the decisions he’s called on to make as his cousin, the Captain of the Guard, investigates his brother’s murder. Despite what seems like obvious evidence, Prince Jared listens to the new Physician’s apprentice, a girl named Asta, when she tries to convince him that the suspected murderer is just a ploy for the real killer. As Prince Jared and Asta team up to find the true killers, more and more of the Council of Twelve come under suspicion as there are more deaths and seemingly neatly tied motives. Can they find the real culprit before the entire princedom of Archenfield is plunged into war and chaos?

Not your typical fantasy book, but full of drama, intrigue and a whodunit murder mystery. More for middle grade readers despite some sexual references and crime scene investigative descriptions (love, babies, affairs). However, I did not love this book. I was vaguely bored by the various hours and council positions, and just did not like the characters enough. This was definitely more plot-driven. Doesn’t mean I won’t be reading the second book! I especially did not like Jared’s family except possibly his girl-cousin, who dropped off the face of the book despite being introduced as an interesting character. Too much was going on and not enough connections to the main character to really make you feel what was happening.

Nevermind my opinions though; read for yourself!



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Posted by on September 30, 2014 in Fantasy, Young Adult/Teen


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