A generous dollop of homage to the grande dame of mystery plus buckets of clues and conundrums to savor.

THE AGATHAS

Two high schoolers team up to investigate a classmate’s death and discover that their small California town is positively aboil with secrets.

Seething at the oddly lackadaisical response of local police to the disappearance of her former BFF on Halloween, 17-year-old Agatha Christie fan Alice Ogilvie enlists Iris Adams, her peer tutor, to launch an inquiry that not only bears immediate fruit in the form of a battered corpse at the base of nearby seaside cliffs, but leads to a veritable flood of obvious but conflicting clues and revelations that point to, and away from, foul play. Which was it? As the two gather and struggle to make sense of their evidence in traded-off chapters (with help from a squad of enthusiastic would-be fellow sleuths and a savvy public defender with flexible ethics), readers quickly twig to the fact that they themselves are nursing secrets. Along with frequent references to Christie’s books and tumultuous personal history, the co-authors stir in classic mystery tropes and complications aplenty. Though evidently all White, the students at Castle Cove High are split between fabulously wealthy A-listers and working-class kids; as events speed along to a surprise denouement (albeit not in a drawing room) with a violent but decisive resolution, class tensions play out, sometimes viciously, between the protagonists as they warily circle one another on the way to a firm bond.

A generous dollop of homage to the grande dame of mystery plus buckets of clues and conundrums to savor. (map, abuse resource list) (Mystery. 13-18)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43111-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist.

LOCK THE DOORS

A blended family seeks a fresh start in a new home.

Tom’s mother believes that the family may have finally found happiness. After years of dating losers, she’s finally settled down with a nice guy—and that nice guy, Jay, happens to have a daughter, Nia, who is just a little older than Tom. The new family has moved into a nice new house, but Tom can’t shake the feeling that something’s wrong. They discover a strange message written on the wall when they are stripping the old wallpaper, and there’s clear evidence that the previous owners had installed locks on the exteriors of the bedroom doors. Those previous owners happen to live a little farther down the street, and Tom quickly becomes obsessed with their teenage daughter, Amy, and the secrets she’s hiding. This obsession unfortunately becomes a repetitive slog involving many pages of Tom’s brooding and sulking over the same bits of information while everyone tells him to move on. Readers will be on everyone’s side. But then, a blessed breath of fresh air: The perspective shifts to Amy, and readers learn in spectacularly propulsive fashion exactly what she’s hiding. Regret and intrigue blend perfectly as Amy divulges her secrets. Alas, we return to navel-gazing Tom for the book’s final pages, and everything ends with a shrug. Main characters default to White.

A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72823-189-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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