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It's been a dreary few days up here in central New York, which means it’s a perfect time to curl up with a blanket, a cup of tea and a really good book. This weekend I have three mysteries to offer you, all certain to be engaging, quick, can’t-put-them-down reads to help you get through these April showers and into the days of sunshine that just have to be ahead of us, right?
You’ll Be the Death of Me by Karen M. McManus
The first selection is You’ll Be the Death of Me, by mystery writer extraordinaire Karen M. McManus, most famous for her series One of Us Is Lying / One of Us Is Next series. For those of us of a certain age who work with young people and enjoy reading young adult literature, McManus’s first series brought to mind some nostalgia for our Breakfast Club days, and You’ll Be the Death of Me offers a similar start: noting that the story begins with three friends who spontaneously decide to take the day off from school has us yearning for a Ferris Bueller's Day Off-themed storyline. But just like her other tales, the story quickly takes a dark turn, as Ivy, Cal and Mateo’s seemingly innocent adventure turns into a race to solve a classmate’s murder. Once close friends in middle school who grew apart over time, the threesome have to contend with the awkwardness of navigating estranged relationships all while trying to prove their own innocence when it looks as if they’re being implicated in the murder. The three set off on a dark scavenger hunt of sorts, looking to stay ahead of the police in confronting the details about drugs, family secrets, and a town scandal that is sure to leave readers’ jaws dropped.
The Project by Courtney Summers
The second pick for this weekend is called The Project by Courtney Summers, author of the NYTimes bestseller Sadie. This too is another dark tale, the story of Lo Denham, a young woman and aspiring journalist whose suspicions about The Unity Project lead her down a harrowing journey of self-discovery. When Lo was just a girl she almost died in a tragic car accident that claimed the rest of her family except for her older sister Bea. Bea, desperately afraid that her little sister Lo would die too, found solace and faith in the Project’s spiritual leader, Lev Warren. When Lo miraculously survived, Bea left to join The Unity Project and Lo was left alone, feeling abandoned and betrayed. When The Unity Project finds itself thrust into the headlines, Lo sees her opportunity to investigate the secretive organization and to hopefully find the answers about her sister she’s been searching for years. Told in alternating chapters of contemporary events and flashbacks, the mystery evolves as readers come to learn more and more of the backstory between Lo and Bea, leaving them to both hope for a reunion and to dread what might become of Lo as she gets even closer to the Project in her investigation.
The Initial Insult by Mindy McGinnis
My final pick for mysteries you can’t put down this weekend is called The Initial Insult by Mindy McGinnis. This one is just pure fun for all lovers of Edgar Allan Poe, as the settings, characters and storylines are borrowed from his most famous tales. Taking place in Amontillado Ohio, this is the story of young Tress Montor and her nemesis Felicity Turnado (get it already, right?). Tress and Felicity used to be best friends, but that ends when Tress’s parents mysteriously disappear and Felicity alone survives. This novel is told from the girls’ alternating perspectives (plus with a third poetic narrator told in the voice of Tress’s panther) and is the story of what happens when one girl’s horrific actions finally push the other one over the edge. Just as in “The Cask of Amontillado,” this is a story of the harshest revenge, and the details are shockingly similar. The reader is tempted to hope that young people couldn’t engage in such terrible treatment of one another, but as anyone familiar with the social realities of high school will attest, wounds run deep - and Tress can’t let go of her resentment for everything Felicity has that Tress herself had lost. The Initial Insult is the first of a duology, and the end leaves you on a cliffhanger so be prepared to get the second installment in the series, The Last Laugh, which is out now. And that’s where I'll leave you, as it’s the next pick in my to-be-read pile too!
Till next weekend!