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Contributor(s): Johnston, Jeffry W.

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ISBN: 1492664618     ISBN-13: 9781492664611
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
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Binding Type: Paperback
Published: February 2019

Annotation: Amateur investigator Alden Ross thinks he witnessed a murder, but when the victim shows up alive, he must figure out what he could have seen and what the school's most popular couple is hiding.
Additional Information
Library of Congress Subjects:
Detectives; Fiction.
Murder; Fiction.
Mystery and detective stories.
Dewey: [Fic]
LCCN: 2018033686
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 10-12, Age 15-18
Book type: Juvenile Fiction
Physical Information: 8.25" H x 5.50" W x 1.00" (0.65 lbs) 270 pages
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Reviewed by PW Annex Reviews (Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews)

Sixteen-year-old Alden fancies himself an investigator in training, regularly following people and taking copious notes: "It's hard to stop. People are strange. I learn a lot." Alden is also haunted by his parents' murder the previous summer; they were senselessly shot at a carnival, and Alden is gripped by immense guilt. He's handed the case of a lifetime when he follows seemingly too-perfect senior Greg Matthes after school and witnesses what appears to be Greg murdering his girlfriend, Amy Sloan. Rather than go to the police with very little evidence (as he's done in the past) or confront Greg, he confides in his best friend, Charlie. When Amy isn't at school the next day, Charlie is told that she's at a three-day-church camp, but Amy's parents are out of town, so they can't confirm her whereabouts, and Greg is acting oddly. As the plot by Johnston (The Truth) twists and turns, readers will enjoy being in the company of a gentle, keen observer. Sensitive Alden's struggle with trauma and his path to forgiving himself is moving and authentic. Ages 14–up. Agent: Wendy Schmalz, Wendy Schmalz Agency. (Feb.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly Annex.

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2018 December)

Gr 9 Up{amp}mdash;A first-person account of 16-year-old Alden's investigation of the mass murder he witnessed in an abandoned park that resulted in his parents' death. Driven by guilt, Alden investigates the crime. Alden's best friend (and unspoken crush), Charlie, plays the role of sidekick with the convenient police chief father who keeps them in the loop about the police investigation. The writing style and short chapters are consistent, effective, and easy for teens to digest. The suspense novel slows down at times. Speculative dialogue and doubts aren't addressed soon enough and fail to move the plot along. For long stretches, Alden looks for answers, finding nothing substantial. If readers can plod through the sluggish middle, they are rewarded eventually with a believable turning point. Alden's feelings for Charlie are confusing and made more so when he works hard to help victim/villain Amy, but the Alden-Amy relationship isn't developed enough for readers to buy into his feelings for her during the final showdown. Although Alden continuously justifies his creepy spying and rogue decision-making as future private investigator preparation, his many excuses make the behavior even more suspect. The twist at the end is believable, and the clues leading up to the climax are veiled enough to surprise most. VERDICT Even readers who relate to Alden or empathize for his loss might struggle to connect with his compulsion to follow people. An additional purchase.{amp}mdash;Seth Herchenbach, McHenry County College., Crystal Lake, IL

Copyright 2018 School Library Journal.
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