It’s time to review another Edgar nominee, this time for best young adult mystery.
Author: Lamar Giles
Age group: young adult
Synopsis: Teenager Nick Pearson has been living in the Witness Protection Program for years. His father, a former mob ally, is a key witness in a case against a big-time mobster–or at least, will be a key witness once the police capture the mobster. Unfortunately, Nick’s dad has problems playing by the rules; thus, Nick’s family is forced to change names and locations several times. When Nick lands in the small town of Stepton, things go wrong quickly. A student at school commits suicide, but Nick isn’t convinced it wasn’t murder. Worse yet, he fears his dad is messed up in the whole deal.
Giles provides several nice plot twists to a story that keeps getting more complicated as Nick investigates, so I can see why it’s been nominated for an Edgar. After years of reading so many mysteries, it’s a little hard to surprise me so I’ll admit that there was one plot twist that got me.
Parents may want to be forewarned that there is foul language in the book, but it didn’t seem gratuitous to me. I’m sure high school students hear similar or worse language on a daily basis. There are also brief mentions of sex and one short make-out scene. Nick certainly isn’t the perfect hero of a romance novel, but he’s a kid trying to do the right thing despite his father’s mistakes, so we root for him to succeed, and there are definitely some humorous lines in here.
One other thing I feel compelled to mention is that after the questionable suicide, one character mentions that another character says there won’t be a Catholic funeral because it was a suicide. I don’t know if Giles purposely included this erroneous idea or if he’s unaware himself. However, as a Catholic with a book about teen suicide due out in just a couple months, I thought I should clear the air. Someone who has committed suicide can have a Catholic funeral Mass. If you’d like an explanation, feel free to see this article.