May 1, 2016 Booklist 49 #mysterymonth
ist and motorist. The ending leaves room for
further adventures, so Miss Wallace’s fans may
just get their wish. —Julia Smith
By Alyson Noël.
May 2016. 432p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $17.99
(9780062324528). Gr. 9–12.
Madison Brooks, a Hollywood starlet topping the A-list, goes missing outside of a
nightclub in the opening to the latest from
best-seller Noël (Evermore, 2009). The narrative then plays back the months before
Madison’s disappearance, following three
fame-hungry teenagers: Layla, who longs to
be a journalist but lacks the funds for school;
Aster, the bored wannabe actress chafing
under her strict parents; and Tommy, who
dreams of being a rock star while he works
in a guitar store. The three find themselves
thrown together in a contest hosted by the
infamous Ira Redman, working to promote
his nightclubs. Each is desperate to achieve
their goals, and each becomes somehow entangled with Madison. Glitzy, often cutthroat
L.A. is the backdrop for this first in a series
featuring a group of teenagers who become
more unlikable the longer they are exposed—
Hollywood’s known to ruin people, after all.
Noël stays fairly surface level with her characters, but for readers looking for a breezy,
glamorous look into L.A.’s underworld, this is
the page-turner for the job. —Maggie Reagan
What the Dead Want.
By Norah Olson.
July 2016. 320p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $17.99
(9780062410115). Gr. 7–10.
Gretchen Axton, 16, lost her mother years
ago, literally: Mona Axton, who made a career out of spirit photography, vanished
mysteriously. Gretchen inherited her skill
with a camera, and now it seems she is next in
line for the family mansion. Curious, Gretchen leaves her native Manhattan to travel to
the house in upstate New York, where she
meets her odd great-aunt Esther and discovers that the mansion and the town are the
site of a dark family secret from the Civil
War era—a secret that’s brought startlingly
into the present when Gretchen encounters
actual ghosts of the past. As a ghost story,
this sometimes misses the mark—the ghosts
are rarely chilling or evocative—but Olson,
as she did in her debut (Twisted Fate, 2015),
uses her journalism background to great
effect. Letters, newspaper clippings, and vintage photographs from Gretchen’s ancestors’
time provide added detail as Gretchen tries
to solve both the racially charged mysteries
of the past and the secret behind her mother’s
disappearance in this atmospheric exploration of family sins. —Maggie Reagan
By Eileen Cook.
June 2016. 320p. HMH, $17.99 (9780544805095).
When privileged Jill wakes up in the hospi-
tal, she’s concerned with two things, talking
to her best friend, Simone, and getting ready
for the tour of Italy she’d
been anticipating. Soon,
though, she realizes the
terrible truth. She’s already
been to Italy. That’s where
she caused the car accident
that killed Simone. As she
pieces together the missing
six weeks of her memory
and endures both physical and psychiatric
therapy, Jill encounters increasing trouble.
The Italian police believe the accident was
intentional, and thanks to Internet vitriol,
she’s swiftly becoming the subject of a media
frenzy. She has allies, but they’re not enough
to stem her rising anxiety over the threat of
extradition. As the rumors surrounding the
case (related in snippets of ephemera be-
tween chapters) become more salacious, Jill
becomes more dogged in her determination
to remember the truth. Similarities to the in-
famous Amanda Knox case notwithstanding,
Cook’s compelling, tautly written mystery
leads readers on a swooping roller coaster of
allegiances. Jill, a determined overachiever, is
multidimensional and sympathetic, and the
doozy of an ending clicks all the seemingly
disparate elements of her story and character
neatly, chillingly into place. Cinematic scene
breaks and propulsive reveals will keep the
pages furiously turning in this slow-burning
but explosive thriller. —Sarah Hunter
The Sandwich Thief.
By André Marois. Illus. by Patrick
2016. 160p. Chronicle, $14.99 (9781452146591).
A graphic mystery for the elementary-school
set, Marois’ enchanting story pairs wonderfully with first-time-illustrator Doyon’s
frenetic, hip art, which
owes more to Maira Kalman (What Pete Ate from
A to Z, 2001) than to Jeff
Kinney’s Wimpy Kid.
Doyen captures protago-
nist Marin’s anxiety in
ketchup, mustard, and
black tones while giving
sharp-edged detail and distinctive looks to
Marin’s classmates in engaging and delight-
fully over-the-top ways. Marin, it seems, is
facing a dilemma: someone is stealing his
lunch. His lunch is specifically targeted be-
cause his parents are foodies (“They have
more cookbooks than clothes”), and his
mother crafts his sandwiches with bread made
with “special flour that she bought from a
secret bakery run by kung fu monks.” Is the
thief Marie, a classmate who seems perpetu-
ally hungry? Is it the principal, who is often
seen with egg on his shirt? Or is it the teacher
whose position across the hall from Marin’s
classroom gives her advantageous access to the
hall cloakroom? Young readers will enjoy the
twists that make Marin’s pursuit of the thief
difficult. Why, for instance, was his midweek
shrimp sandwich untouched? Finally, Marin
asks his mom for help, and she uses her chem-
istry talent to devise a way to catch the thief.
For readers looking for something spirited,
smart, and spicy, this definitely fits the bill.
Snowize & Snitch: Highly Effective
By Karen Briner. Illus. by Victor Rivas.
May 2016. 288p. Holiday, $16.95 (9780823435678);
e-book, $16.95 (9780823436200). Gr. 3–7.
Time travel, a secret spy agency, thwarted
love, and corporate espionage combine in this
madcap middle-grade novel. Ever Indigo Ni-kita Stein barely remembers her parents, who
vanished one night under mysterious circumstances and left her in the care of eccentric
inventor Doc. When Doc also disappears,
the 12-year-old is left a cryptic trail of clues
to follow. With the help of Harry Snowize,
a former superspy disabled by selective amnesia, and his partner, Snitch, a rat fluent in
sign language, Ever sets off on a wide-ranging
journey to find Doc, retrieve the brain of an
incapacitated inventor, thwart a criminal mastermind, and maybe learn the truth about her
parents. There is a lot of silliness, including
some particularly oddball characters, and alert
readers will solve the mystery of Ever’s parents
long before she does. Still, the globe-trotting,
insanely creative inventions and satisfying
ending—happy without being perfect—will
appeal to readers who fancy a bit of derring-do. —Kara Dean
Summer of Lost and Found.
By Rebecca Behrens.
May 2016. 288p. Aladdin, $16.99 (9781481458962).
Nell Dare has several mysteries on her
hands. First, why has her father suddenly left
their Manhattan apartment for London, leaving her botanist mother sad and distracted?
Once Nell and Mrs. Dare arrive on Roanoke Island for a research project, a second
question of perennial interest captures Nell’s
attention: What happened to the lost colony
of Roanoke? Aiding Nell in her quest to find
some evidence of the colony and its fate is
Ambrose, a boy of her age dressed in colonial
garb (Nell assumes he is a historical reenac-tor) who knows oodles about the island.
Blocking Nell’s progress, though, is local girl
Lila, who wants to be the first to solve the
mystery. Between Roanoke history, a ghost
story (yes, Ambrose), and family troubles,
Behrens has perhaps a bit too much to juggle here, but mostly she does so gracefully.
Readers will learn a lot about early English
settlers, and Nell’s family problems will strike
a chord. The interspersed historical writings
don’t always sound authentic but contain
more history. The excellent back matter provides even more. —Ilene Cooper