I’ve read several books by this author, and she seems to be getting more mainstream with each passing tale. I’m afraid this one was a little too mainstream and predictable for me to really rave about, but it is a decent contemporary mystery for YA readers. I don’t think it will really grab the attention of more discerning mystery readers because it just feels average in its plot and execution, but it is still a four star read as far as this genre goes. Bells and whistles are sometimes overkill anyway.
Emmie’s had a crush on her best friend’s brother forever. Deacon is the town bad boy who’s always in trouble, but she sees his soft side when he volunteers with her at the local animal shelter. She doesn’t think he’s dangerous…until he shows up in her bedroom with blood on his hands.
Deacon’s father has been violently assaulted and Deacon is suspect number one. Emmie’s smart enough to know how this looks, but she also knows Deacon’s biggest secret—he’s paralyzed by the sight of blood. She’s sure he didn’t do this. Or did he? Because even Deacon’s own sister thinks he’s guilty…
Initially, I found the story confusing because it opens in the middle of a crisis. It doesn’t take long to start sorting people out, but I feel like readers need to know they need to stick it out a couple of chapters before they give up on the story. This is a decent YA suspense/thriller with plenty of suspects and red herrings thrown in. I did guess parts of the puzzle, but I couldn’t put them together until the very end because this one was a little twisty. The romance is well balanced with both the action and the protagonist’s struggles with her parents expectations, and I thought the subplots worked well together. The characters were okay, but I felt like secondary characters really lacked the development they needed to help me guess more about the situation. To be fair, most of the secondary characters played only peripheral roles, though. The overall pacing was fast enough to keep the suspense going, and I was engaged enough to finish it in a day. Having read Natalie Richards other books, I was a little surprised at how conventional the story was – this is probably her most mainstream book, but I don’t think it is her most interesting (Gone Too Far is). Essentially, this is a little Vanilla for my expectations, but I think more readers will be able to enjoy the story. I would recommend it to my YA suspense/thriller readers. It is going on my classroom library wish list. Language and situations are appropriate for grades 7+.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.