Tag Archives: murder

Following by Jeffry W. Johnston

Following by Jeffry W. Johnston. February 5, 2019. Sourcebooks Fire, 256 p. ISBN: 9781492664611.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Rear Window meets Serial in this riveting new thriller from Edgar Award-nominated author that follows Alden as he tries to solve a crime only he believes was committed.

Alden likes to follow people. He’s not trying to be a creep, he just wants to be an investigator someday, and it’s good practice.

But spying on people comes with risks, like when Alden sees popular Greg Matthes seemingly murder his girlfriend, Amy, one night in the bad part of town.

But the facts aren’t adding up, especially because Amy may be alive. Now Alden has to figure what he could have seen… and what secrets Greg is hiding.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; violence

 

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 9))
Grades 9-12. High-school junior Alden has always fancied himself an amateur detective: “It’s important work. You never know about people; what they show on the outside is often not what’s on the inside. You’ve gotta watch for those brief moments when the hidden part slips out.” After Alden’s parents are killed during a mass shooting, investigating suspicious leads is all he can think about. Curiosity gets him in hot water when he follows popular senior athlete Greg to a secluded area behind the high school and witnesses what he thinks is Greg murdering his girlfriend, Amy. When Amy turns up at school unmistakably not murdered, Alden has to reshape his theories. Guided by his best friend (and daughter of the local police chief) Charlie, Alden walks a fine line between sticking to his convictions and making a false police report. Johnston’s (The Truth​, 2016) latest is a slow-burn thriller that veers in surprising directions, with a final twist no one will see coming. Teasing chapter endings and engaging characters will propel readers forward.

Kirkus Reviews (November 1, 2018)
Practicing his investigative techniques, aspiring detective Alden follows golden boy Greg to an abandoned ball park at the edge of town where he believes he witnesses a murder. In an update to the fable of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” Alden is the guy spotting crime and anonymously informing the police in order to assuage the guilt he feels around the death of his parents during a mass shooting at a fair. He is obsessed with the need to prevent the mayhem he feels exists around him. But is this crime real? Greg, a senior and popular athlete at their high school, is dating pretty, red-haired Amy—and now Alden thinks he has murdered her. Alden’s best friend, Charlie, is the daughter of the chief of police and for a time becomes involved in trying to prove or disprove the crime that Alden believes was committed. A junior, Alden lives with an uncle who is trying to be a parent but lacks experience; this side plot adds to the overall picture of Alden’s isolation. There are minimal physical descriptions beyond hair color, and main characters follow a white default. Little in the characterization or writing make this stand out, but Alden’s motivation rings true, and his vulnerability is appealing. A twisty mystery. (Fiction. 12-16)

About the Author

I write young adult mysteries and thrillers. My first two novels, FRAGMENTS and THE TRUTH, were both Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers selections by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). FRAGMENTS was also a 2008 Edgar nominee by the Mystery Writers of America for Best Young Adult Mystery and THE TRUTH was a 2017 In the Margins Top 10 Book Award winner. My new teen thriller, FOLLOWING, is out in 2019. Besides also publishing numerous short stories and articles covering various genres and subjects, I have been a film and theatre reviewer.

His website is jeffrywjohnston.com.

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Spin by Lamar Giles

Spin by Lamar Giles. January 29, 2019. Scholastic, 400 p. ISBN: 9781338219210.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Even in murder, the music lives on.

When rising star Paris Secord (aka DJ ParSec) is found dead on her turntables, it sends the local music scene reeling. No one is feeling that grief more than her shunned pre-fame best friend, Kya, and ParSec’s chief groupie, Fuse — two sworn enemies who happened to be the ones who discovered her body.

The police have few leads, and when the trail quickly turns cold, the authorities don’t seem to be pushing too hard to investigate further. But nobody counted on Paris’s deeply loyal fans, ParSec Nation, or the outrage that would drive Fuse and Kya to work together. As ParSec Nation takes to social media and the streets in their crusade for justice, Fuse and Kya start digging into Paris’s past, stumbling across a deadly secret. With new info comes new motives. New suspects. And a fandom that will stop at nothing in their obsessive quest for answers, not even murder…

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild sexual themes

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (January 1, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 9))
Grades 9-12. During Charleston’s 2018 YALLFest author panel, Giles pointed to music fandoms like Beyoncé’s Beyhive as his inspiration for Spin. These create the perfect launchpad for his explosive, gripping novel that will leave readers on the edge of their seats. Giles blends a clear love of hip-hop with the juiciness of fandoms and the gripping, heart-stopping thrill of a good murder mystery. ParSec is the stage name of 16-year-old Paris Secord, a talented up-and-coming DJ on the local music scene. When Paris is murdered, her newfound fame is cut short. Paris’ best friend Kya and her most adoring fan, Fuse, are shaken to the core by her death. They both suspect the other of murdering Paris, and public accusations between them explode into scandal—until they discover that Paris had a major deal brewing and there may have been a third party who would have wanted her dead. Kya and Fuse are determined to unearth Paris’ killer but may lose their lives in the process, because whoever killed DJ ParSec is intent on remaining anonymous. Spin delivers everything you could want in a book: lush, complex characters; a spine-chilling plot; a vividly drawn world; and, best of all, hip-hop. It’s a music genre and a lifestyle that doesn’t see rep in YA books nearly enough, and Giles delivers it in style.

Kirkus Reviews starred (November 15, 2018)
Two African-American teens who dislike each other find themselves working together to solve the murder of a mutual friend.Kya Caine and Fatima “Fuse” Fallon were both in the orbit of Paris Secord, aka DJ ParSec. Kya and Paris were friends from their neighborhood, while Fuse’s skill with social media made her the ideal person to promote this music among #ParSecNation fans. On the night Paris is murdered, both girls happen on the scene within minutes of each other; her death is a blow, and their shock and pain run deep. When they are briefly kidnapped by #DarkNation, a group of violent, extreme fans, they put their differences behind them to find the killer. The young women come from different worlds: Kya, the daughter of a hardworking single parent, resents upper-middle-class Fuse. But the drive to find answers before #DarkNation or the killer strike again propels them. They agree on the likely culprit and know their best chance of proving their guilt will occur during the high-energy commingling of everyone touched by the rising star and her music in an upcoming memorial concert. This is genre fiction at its best: a taut mystery with rich characterization and a strong sense of place. Social realities, such as class and family dynamics, add depth. The depiction of the grassroots music scene that feeds hip-hop and keeps it cutting edge is seamlessly woven into the narrative. Not to be missed. (Mystery. 12-18)

About the Author

L. R. Giles hunts monsters. When he catches them, he locks them in stories. His work has been featured in the Dark Dreams anthology series, he’s won the prestigious Virginia Commission for the Arts Fiction Fellowship, and he was a Top 10 Finalist in the international SciFi Now/Tor UK War of the Words competition. He resides in Chesapeake, Virginia with his wife.

Her website is www.lamargiles.com.

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Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus. January 8, 2019. Delacorte Press, 336 p. ISBN: 9781524714734.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 730.

Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.

The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone has declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.

Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Drugs, Mild sexual themes, Strong language, Underage drinking

 

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Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist (November 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 5))
Grades 9-12. McManus follows up her smash hit debut, One of Us Is Lying​ (2017), with another twisted mystery centered around wily teens. Echo Ridge is an idyllic small town in all ways but one: five years ago, homecoming queen Lacy Kildare was strangled, her body left in the presciently named Murderland theme park. The park changed its name, but the town never moved on—Lacy’s body may have been the first one to turn up, but she wasn’t the first girl to go missing. Ellery and her twin brother, Ezra, have just moved to Echo Ridge to live with their grandmother while their mom, whose own twin vanished in high school, undergoes a stint in rehab. When another girl goes missing, true-crime obsessive Ellery is determined to find the truth. But Echo Ridge is dangerous, and she and her family may be more involved than she knows. This is as much a social commentary as it is a layered mystery, and a somewhat abrupt finale won’t keep readers from speeding their way to the end.

Kirkus Reviews starred (October 15, 2018)
History threatens to repeat itself in a small town known for disappearing teen girls. When their mother is suddenly sent to rehab, twins Ellery and Ezra Corcoran are uprooted from California to live with their grandmother in Vermont. True-crime–obsessed Ellery knows the town is infamous for girls going missing. Her own aunt, her mother’s twin, disappeared 23 years ago, never to be found. Just five years ago, Lacey Kilduff was found murdered in nearby Murderland, a Halloween theme park. All eyes are on the twins as the new kids in town, and Ellery’s pulled between the popular girls and Malcolm Kelly, the younger brother of Declan, Lacey’s boyfriend and the person everyone suspects murdered her. Disturbing acts of vandalism pop up, threatening a sequel to events at Murderland. When Ellery’s nominated for homecoming queen, the threats begin to target her and the other princesses, and no matter what he does, Malcolm keeps ending up at the wrong place at the wrong time, making for an easy scapegoat. Alternating between Ellery’s and Malcolm’s perspectives, the mystery unfurls at a deliciously escalating pace, filled with believable red herrings and shocking twists. Readers will furiously turn pages until the satisfying end. Though the students are predominantly white, Ellery and Ezra are biracial (white and Latinx), and Ezra is gay. Malcolm is white, and his best friend is a bisexual Korean-American girl. Masterfully paced with well-earned thrills and spooky atmosphere worth sinking into. (Thriller. 14-18)

About the Author

Karen M. McManus earned her BA in English from the College of the Holy Cross and her MA in journalism from Northeastern University. When she isn’t working or writing in Cambridge, Massachusetts, McManus loves to travel with her son. One of Us Is Lying is her debut novel.

Her website is www.karenmcmanus.com.

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The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson

The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson. January 22, 2019. Katherine Tegen Books, 384 p. ISBN: 9780062338082.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

All Stevie Bell wanted was to find the key to the Ellingham mystery, but instead she found her classmate dead. And while she solved that murder, the crimes of the past are still waiting in the dark. Just as Stevie feels she’s on the cusp of putting it together, her parents pull her out of Ellingham academy.

For her own safety they say. She must move past this obsession with crime. Now that Stevie’s away from the school of topiaries and secret tunnels, and her strange and endearing friends, she begins to feel disconnected from the rest of the world. At least she won’t have to see David anymore. David, who she kissed. David, who lied to her about his identity—son of despised politician Edward King. Then King himself arrives at her house to offer a deal: He will bring Stevie back to Ellingham immediately. In return, she must play nice with David. King is in the midst of a campaign and can’t afford his son stirring up trouble. If Stevie’s at school, David will stay put.

The tantalizing riddles behind the Ellingham murders are still waiting to be unraveled, and Stevie knows she’s so close. But the path to the truth has more twists and turns than she can imagine—and moving forward involves hurting someone she cares for. In New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson’s second novel of the Truly Devious series, nothing is free, and someone will pay for the truth with their life.

Sequel to: Truly Devious

Part of Series: Truly Devious (Book 2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Underage drinking, Smoking

 

Video Review

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 9))
Grades 9-12. When true-crime-obsessed teenager Stevie Bell made surprising headway on Ellingham Academy’s infamous 80-year-old cold case, she wasn’t expecting one of her classmates to turn up dead and another to vanish. But in Truly Devious​ (2018), they did, and now Stevie’s parents have pulled her out of school, far away from mysteries both past and present. Stuck, at least, until she gets an offer she can’t refuse from a man with plenty of ulterior motives. But for this single-minded sleuth, nothing is more important than Ellingham’s secrets. In this second trilogy installment, Johnson gives and she takes away: a few major mysteries are satisfying solved, but other long-standing riddles remain tantalizingly indecipherable, and several new ones come into play by the enigmatic end. That Johnson handles all these plots without stalling her tale or relying on shock value to hook her audience is a testament to her skills as a storyteller. Readers, hang tight: there’s one more round to come, and if the signs are right, it’ll be to die for.

About the Author

Maureen knew from an early age she wanted to be a writer. She went to high school at an all-girls’ Catholic school and graduated from University of Delaware with a degree in writing. She now lives and writes in New York City.

Many of the adventures Maureen’s characters face in her books are based on real-life stories. Maureen has traveled all over Europe, and is a Secret Sister to vlog brothers Hank and John Green.

Her website is www.maureenjohnsonbooks.com.

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7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. September 18, 2018. Sourcebooks Landmark, 438 p. ISBN: 9781492657965.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

The Rules of Blackheath

Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.
There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.
We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.
Understood? Then let’s begin…

Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others…

The most inventive debut of the year twists together a mystery of such unexpected creativity it will leave readers guessing until the very last page.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Grotesque imagery, Mild language, Violence

 

Video Reviews

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (May 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 17))
The Hardcastle family has decided to throw a party at Blackheath House as a memorial to their son, who was killed there years before. At 11 p.m., during the party, Evelyn Hardcastle is murdered. Aiden Bishop is trapped inside a time loop with this murder mystery at its center. Each morning he awakens in another guest’s body and relives that same day until Evelyn’s death. If he does not find the killer by 11 p.m., Evelyn will die, and the cycle will begin again. However, there is a catch: he’s racing against time—he has eight days, eight do-overs, to solve the mystery. If he fails, he will be killed himself. This novel is so ingenious and original that it’s difficult to believe it’s Turton’s debut. The writing is completely immersive. The reader slips into the pages right beside Bishop, following closely in the adrenaline-packed hunt for the killer. Evelyn’s time line could easily be confusing, but Turton masterfully creates a natural flow while jumping through different characters on different days. There are certainly echoes of Agatha Christie here, but it’s Christie ramped up several notches, thanks to the malevolent twist on the Groundhog Day theme. Readers may be scratching their heads in delicious befuddlement as they work their way through this novel, but one thing will be absolutely clear: Stuart Turton is an author to remember.

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2018)
In this dizzying literary puzzle, the hapless protagonist is doomed to relive the same day over and over unless he can solve a murder at a masquerade ball. The narrator, Aiden Bishop, wakes up in a forest outside Blackheath House, “a sprawling Georgian manor house,” not knowing who or where he is—or why he’s screaming the name Anna. A man in a beaked plague-doctor mask brings him up to speed: For eight days, Aiden will wake up in the body of a different witness to the shooting of young beauty Evelyn Hardcastle. If at the end of that extended week, during which Aiden will remember all that occurs, he fails to identify the killer and break the bizarre murder cycle, he will have his memory wiped and be forced to start from the beginning. “It’s like I’ve been asked to dig a hole with a shovel made of sparrows,” Aiden moans. To be real or not to be real, that is the question for Aiden, who struggles after his own identity while being “hosted” by individuals who include the lord of the manor, a doctor, and a butler. Borrowing liberally from such cultural milestones as Groundhog Day, Quantum Leap, and Eyes Wide Shut—and, of course, the stories of Agatha Christie—the book has a built-in audience. It’s a fiendishly clever and amusing novel with explosive surprises, though in the absence of genuine feeling, it tends to keep its audience at arm’s length. Turton’s debut is a brainy, action-filled sendup of the classic mystery, though readers may be hard-pressed to keep up with all its keenly calibrated twists and turns for more than 400 pages.

About the Author

Stuart lives in London with his amazing wife and daughter. He drinks lots of tea.

​When he left university he went travelling for three months and stayed away for five years. Every time his parents asked when he’d be back he told them next week, and meant it.

Stuart is not to be trusted. In the nicest possible way.

He’s got a degree in English and Philosophy, which makes him excellent at arguing and terrible at choosing degrees.

Having trained for no particular career, he has dabbled in most of them. He stocked shelves in a Darwin bookshop, taught English in Shanghai, worked for a technology magazine in London, wrote travel articles in Dubai, and now he’s a freelance journalist. None of this was planned, he just kept getting lost on his way to other places.

He likes a chat. He likes books. He likes people who write books and people who read books. He doesn’t know how to write a biography, so should probably stop before he tells you about his dreams or something. It was lovely to meet you, though.

Her website is stuturton.wordpress.com/

Teacher Resources

7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle Reading Guide

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Mistletoe & Murder by Robin Stevens

Mistletoe & Murder by Robin Stevens. September 18, 2018. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 352 p. ISBN: 9781481489126.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.8.

Hazel and Daisy trade mistletoe for a murder investigation and set out to save the day (Christmas Day that is!) in this fabulously festive fifth novel of the Wells & Wong Mystery series.

Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are spending the Christmas holidays in snowy Cambridge. Hazel is looking forward to a calm vacation among the beautiful spires, cozy libraries, and inviting tea-rooms.

But there is danger lurking in the dark stairwells of ancient Maudlin College and two days before Christmas, there is a terrible accident. At least, it appears to be an accident—until the Detective Society looks a little closer, and realizes a murder has taken place. Faced with several irritating grown-ups and fierce competition from a rival agency, they must use all their cunning and courage if they’re going to find the killer before Christmas dinner.

Sequel to: Jolly Foul Play

Part of Series: Wells & Wong Mystery (Book #5)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racial insensitivity, Underage drinking

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Horn Book Magazine (November/December, 2018)
Their fifth adventure finds Detective Society members Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong spending the winter holidays at Cambridge University visiting Daisy’s brother, Bertie. A reunion with the Junior Pinkertons leads to a bet—which is the better detective society?—and some flirting. Then a student—insufferable, rich, and a twin—is found murdered, and the two societies agree to collaborate. Stevens’s frost-dusted 1935 Cambridge, England, is an appealing backdrop for this adolescent whodunit, and Wells and Wong’s partnership, with its echoes of Holmes and Watson, is as entertaining as ever.

About the Author

Robin Stevens was born in California and grew up in Oxford, England, across the road from the house where Alice of Alice in Wonderland lived. Robin has been making up stories all her life. She spent her teenage years at boarding school, reading a lot of murder mysteries and hoping that she’d get the chance to do some detecting herself (she didn’t). She studied crime fiction in college and then worked in children’s publishing.

Robin now lives in London with her pet bearded dragon, Watson.  Her website is www.robin-stevens.co.uk

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The Word is Murder by David Horowitz

The Word Is Murder by David Horowitz. June 5, 2018. Harper, 390 p. ISBN: 9780062676788.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile: 740.

SHE PLANNED HER OWN FUNERAL. BUT DID SHE ARRANGE HER OWN MURDER?

New York Times bestselling author of Magpie Murders and Moriarty, Anthony Horowitz has yet again brilliantly reinvented the classic crime novel, this time writing a fictional version of himself as the Watson to a modern-day Holmes.

One bright spring morning in London, Diana Cowper – the wealthy mother of a famous actor – enters a funeral parlor. She is there to plan her own service.

Six hours later she is found dead, strangled with a curtain cord in her own home.

Enter disgraced police detective Daniel Hawthorne, a brilliant, eccentric investigator who’s as quick with an insult as he is to crack a case. Hawthorne needs a ghost writer to document his life; a Watson to his Holmes. He chooses Anthony Horowitz.

Drawn in against his will, Horowitz soon finds himself a the center of a story he cannot control. Hawthorne is brusque, temperamental and annoying but even so his latest case with its many twists and turns proves irresistible. The writer and the detective form an unusual partnership. At the same time, it soon becomes clear that Hawthorne is hiding some dark secrets of his own.

Potentially Sensitive Areas:Strong language, Suicide, Violence

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (April 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 15))
Actually, the word is not murder, it’s ingenious. Horowitz, who out-Christied Christie in Magpie Murders (2017), now out-Doyles Doyle by inserting himself (his actual self) into the story as the Watson-like narrator of a murder investigation he is drawn into by a brilliant and eccentric detective, Daniel Hawthorne. No one arranges her own funeral at 11 a.m. on a beautiful spring day and then gets herself murdered a mere six hours later in her own home, right? Well, Diane Cowper manages to do just that. No CCTV footage, fingerprints, or DNA traces, and no sign of a break-in, so the only clue to go on is that the victim must have opened the door to her assailant. Hawthorne has been called in as a consultant by the police and invites Horowitz to tag along because he wants the author to write a book about him. Horowitz, who started out as a television screenwriter, creating both the acclaimed Midsomer Murders and Foyle’s War, finds real crime unlike anything he ever experienced while holding a cleverly devised script on a carefully designed set. Not to mention a dangerous one. A masterful meta-mystery.

Kirkus Reviews starred (March 1, 2018)
Television writer/Christie-loving Sherlock-ian Horowitz (Magpie Murders, 2017, etc.) spins a fiendishly clever puzzle about a television writer/Christie-loving Sherlock-ian named Anthony Something who partners with a modern Sherlock Holmes to solve a baffling case. Six hours after widowed London socialite Diana Cowper calls on mortician Robert Cornwallis to make arrangements for her own funeral, she’s suddenly in need of them after getting strangled in her home. The Met calls on murder specialist Daniel Hawthorne, an ex-DI bounced off the force for reasons he’d rather not talk about, and he calls on the narrator (“nobody ever calls me Tony”), a writer in between projects whose agent expects him to be working on The House of Silk, a Holmes-ian pastiche which Horowitz happens to have published in real life. Anthony’s agreement with Hawthorne to collaborate on a true-crime account of the case is guaranteed to blindside his agent (in a bad way) and most readers (in entrancingly good ways). Diana Cowper, it turns out, is not only the mother of movie star Damian Cowper, but someone who had her own brush with fame 10 years ago when she accidentally ran over a pair of 8-year-old twins, killing Timothy Godwin and leaving Jeremy Godwin forever brain-damaged. A text message Diana sent Damian moments before her death—“I have seen the boy who was lacerated and I’m afraid”—implicates both Jeremy, who couldn’t possibly have killed her, and the twins’ estranged parents, Alan and Judith Godwin, who certainly could have. But which of them, or which other imaginable suspect, would have sneaked a totally unpredictable surprise into her coffin and then rushed out to commit another murder? Though the impatient, tightfisted, homophobic lead detective is impossible to love, the mind-boggling plot triumphs over its characters: Sharp-witted readers who think they’ve solved the puzzle early on can rest assured that they’ve opened only one of many dazzling Christmas packages Horowitz has left beautifully wrapped under the tree.

About the Author

Anthony Horowitz is perhaps the busiest writer in England. He has been writing since the age of eight, and professionally since the age of twenty. He writes in a comfortable shed in his garden for up to ten hours per day. In addition to the highly successful Alex Rider books, he has also written episodes of several popular TV crime series, including Poirot, Murder in Mind, Midsomer Murders and Murder Most Horrid. He has written a television series Foyle’s War, which recently aired in the United States, and he has written the libretto of a Broadway musical adapted from Dr. Seuss’s book, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. His film script The Gathering has just finished production. And — oh yes — there are more Alex Rider novels in the works. Anthony has also written the Diamond Brothers series.

Her website is www.anthonyhorowitz.com

Teacher Resources

The Word is Murder Discussion Questions

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People Like Us by Dana Mele

People Like Us by Dana Mele. February 28, 2018. G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 384 p. ISBN: 9781524741709.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Kay Donovan may have skeletons in her closet, but the past is past, and she’s reinvented herself entirely. Now she’s a star soccer player whose group of gorgeous friends run their private school with effortless popularity and acerbic wit. But when a girl’s body is found in the lake, Kay’s carefully constructed life begins to topple.

The dead girl has left Kay a computer-coded scavenger hunt, which, as it unravels, begins to implicate suspect after suspect, until Kay herself is in the crosshairs of a murder investigation. But if Kay’s finally backed into a corner, she’ll do what it takes to survive. Because at Bates Academy, the truth is something you make…not something that happened.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Mild sexual themes, Suicide, Homophobic language, Inappropriate relationship between teacher and student

 

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Reviews

Booklist (December 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 7))
Grades 9-12. Murder, mayhem, and unreliable friendships take center stage in Mele’s debut novel. Kay Donovan, a popular girl known for her soccer skills and her biting humor, gets more than she bargained for when she and her friends go to the lake, after a night of dancing, and a girl’s body turns up, frozen and with her wrists slit. When Kay gets an email the day after, things take a dark turn, and she ends up ruining the lives of former friends and classmates in an effort to assuage her own guilt. As she embarks on the digital scavenger hunt in an effort to clear her name, Kay starts to wonder who is actually behind it all. To some extent, the pacing is inconsistent, and certain characters are static in the end, which may lead readers to wonder how certain relationships came to be. Mele, however, manages to weave a tale of mystery, intrigue, and revenge in the style of Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why (2007), but with its own twists to keep readers on their toes.

Kirkus Reviews (November 15, 2017)
For some girls, it’s a killer getting into Bates Academy. For others, attending the elite prep school means getting killed.When Kay Donovan and her popular senior classmates uphold the tradition of skinny dipping in the lake after the Halloween dance, they’re surprised to find the dead body of Jessica Lane, a fellow student. But it’s not the first time Kay has seen a dead body—and someone knows it. As she, her friends, and other acquaintances begin answering questions for the police, the teen also receives an email from Jessica’s account that takes her to a revenge website. There, Kay receives instructions to take down all her friends—this one for doping, that one for sleeping with a professor—or her own secrets will be revealed. The debut novel has all the tropes one would expect from a prep school mystery: plenty of backstabbing, predominantly white young socialites (except for Brie with “smooth brown skin”), and frequent parties with alcohol and sex. Yet this intertwined mystery that has readers figuring out Jessica’s murderer and Kay’s secrets (and their possible connections) is more than these clichés. The characters and their relationships are nuanced, especially bisexual Kay, who has intimate encounters with males and females. The blend of predictable prep school elements with unpredictable suspense makes this a fizzy read for fans of the genre. (Mystery. 14-18)

About the Author

Dana Mele is a Pushcart-nominated writer and a work at home mother. A graduate of Wellesley College, she is a former actor, lawyer, musician, and briefly, associate producer. She prefers tea to coffee, snow to sand, and stars to sunshine, and she lives in the Catskills with her husband and toddler.

Her website is www.danamele.com

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Chasing King’s Killer by James L. Swanson

Chasing King’s Killer: The Hunt for Martin Luther King’s Assassin by James L. Swanson. January 2, 2018. Scholastic Press, 384p. ISBN: 9780545723336.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile:.

In his meteoric, thirteen-year rise to fame, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led a mass movement for Civil Rights — with his relentless peaceful, non-violent protests, public demonstrations, and eloquent speeches. But as violent threats cast a dark shadow over Dr. King’s life, Swanson hones in on James Earl Ray, a bizarre, racist, prison escapee who tragically ends King’s life.

As he did in his bestselling Scholastic MG/YA books Chasing LIncoln’s Killer and “THE PRESIDENT HAS BEEN SHOT!”, Swanson transports readers back to one of the most shocking, sad, and terrifying events in American history.

With an introduction by Congressman John Lewis, and over 80 photographs, captions, bibliography, various source notes, and index included.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, War, Violence

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (December 15, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 8))
Grades 7-12. Many Americans remember James Earl Ray’s gunshot that killed Martin Luther King Jr. King experienced a near-death encounter earlier in 1958 when a mentally ill woman stabbed his chest, narrowly missing his heart. The event reinforced fatalism in King and sets a foreboding tone for this masterful work akin to Swanson’s previous success, Chasing Lincoln’s Killer (2009). Following a foreword by Congressman John Lewis, the text gives a short biography of King, highlighting his rise as a civil rights leader. It takes on thriller pacing as it portrays, in alternating segments, King’s ceaseless work and Ray’s escape from prison and eventual plot to assassinate King. Occasional maps and time lines help readers track pivotal movements. As King delivers his stirring “Mountaintop” speech during his last public appearance, untrained hit man Ray stakes out a position to shoot. And as the public mourns King, the search for Ray becomes the largest and most expensive manhunt of the time. Packed with period photographs, the book gives illuminating details, such as how J. Edgar Hoover was ordered to take charge of Ray’s capture. It concludes with numerous conspiracy theories and ponders what message King would deliver today. Copious back matter offers a wealth of additional information. This immersive history reveals, in gripping style, how one individual can impact history.

Kirkus Reviews starred (January 1, 2018)
Swanson, bestselling author of Chasing Lincoln’s Killer (2009), here explores all aspects of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.From the foreword by Congressman John Lewis to the epilogue, this volume places Dr. King and his loss in its historical context. The story begins with a detailed look at an unsuccessful attempt on Dr. King’s life, a foreshadowing of what was to come. Dr. King’s life and work to gain full civil and economic rights for all Americans are presented briefly, but the crux of the narrative is directed at the assassination; the man behind it, escaped convict James Earl Ray; and the aftermath. Swanson describes the events that brought King to Memphis, Tennessee, as part of a larger push for economic justice. In addition to the real-life thriller aspects of the hunt for Ray after King was shot, Swanson’s narrative adds poignant details, such as the experiences of King’s heartbroken aides and their reluctance to cooperate with law enforcement as well as the nation’s mourning of Dr. King. He also addresses conspiracies around the assassination as well as distrust of the FBI due to their wiretapping of King and other activists. This is page-turning nonfiction that captures the tenor of the times with meticulous research and a trove of photographs. Exhaustive, exemplary backmatter further enhances the text. An important contribution to the understanding of a complex period in United States history that still reverberates today. (Nonfiction. 12-adult)

About the Author

James Swanson is the Edgar Award-winning author of the New York Times bestseller Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer. Swanson has degrees in history from the University of Chicago, where he was a student of John Hope Franklin, and in law from the University of California, Los Angeles.

He has held a number of government and think-tank posts in Washington, D.C., including at the United States Department of Justice. Swanson serves on the advisory council of the Ford’s Theatre Society. Born on Lincoln’s birthday, he has studied and collected books, documents, photographs, art, and artifacts from Abraham Lincoln’s life—and death—since he was ten years old.

Teacher Resources

Martin Luther King, Jr. Assassination Lesson Plans

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Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson. January 16, 2018. Katherine Tegen Books, 420 p. ISBN: 9780062338051.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson weaves a delicate tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a striking new series, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and E. Lockhart.

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

The two interwoven mysteries of this first book in the Truly Devious series dovetail brilliantly, and Stevie Bell will continue her relentless quest for the murderers in books two and three.

Part of Series: Truly Devious (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Underage drinking, Smoking

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (November 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 5))
Grades 9-12. Stevie Bell’s deepest wish is to see a dead body. A true-crime aficionado and aspiring detective, she wanted to come to Ellington Academy for one reason: it’s the site of one of the most infamous unsolved kidnappings in the world. Founded by the wealthy, generous Albert Ellington, the private school is an academic haven where learning is playful. But in the 1930s, Ellington’s wife and young daughter were kidnapped, held for ransom, and then, presumably, murdered; the true perpetrator, who left enigmatic letters signed “Truly, Devious,” was never found. Stevie is determined to solve the crime, but her new housemates have secrets of their own, and her wish may come true sooner, and more frighteningly, than she ever wanted it to. Johnson (The Name of the Star, 2011) deftly twists two mysteries together—Stevie’s investigation is interspersed with case files and recollections from the Ellington kidnapping—and the result is a suspenseful, attention-grabbing mystery with no clear solution. Invested readers, never fear—this is just the first in a series.

Horn Book Magazine (January/February, 2018)
Aspiring sleuth Stevie Bell has just started her junior year at Ellingham Academy–an artsy Vermont enclave for offbeat students founded in the 1930s by eccentric philanthropist Albert Ellingham–when disaster strikes. One of her new classmates dies under mysterious circumstances in one of the campus’s hidden tunnels. The event uncannily evokes a tragedy that took place eighty years earlier when Ellingham’s wife and daughter disappeared. While the bodies of his wife and of an unlucky student were discovered later, his daughter was never found. The only clue is a cryptic riddle signed “Truly, Devious.” Stevie, an armchair expert in the Ellingham murder, now has two cases to crack. But she’s distracted from her mission by her ongoing battle with clinical anxiety and a blossoming attraction to her brooding housemate David, who just may be hiding secrets of his own. Told in alternating chapters that chronicle both Ellingham’s past ordeal and Stevie’s current detecting, Johnson’s finely tuned plot effectively employs classical mystery tropes while maintaining a thoroughly modern sensibility. Stevie’s quirky, ragtag bunch of new friends crosses sexuality and class lines, providing teen readers with a wealth of characters to connect with. And if the pacing is a bit leisurely, it’s only because Johnson is setting the stage for a planned trilogy. jennifer hubert swan

About the Author

Maureen knew from an early age she wanted to be a writer. She went to high school at an all-girls’ Catholic school and graduated from University of Delaware with a degree in writing. She now lives and writes in New York City.

Many of the adventures Maureen’s characters face in her books are based on real-life stories. Maureen has traveled all over Europe, and is a Secret Sister to vlog brothers Hank and John Green.

Her website is www.maureenjohnsonbooks.com.

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