The best mysteries give a reader all the clues needed to solve the crime. The best mysteries are full of surprises that keep a reader guessing and wondering and turning pages as fast as possible. The best mysteries end with a solution that ties up loose ends and makes satisfying sense.
The Girl in the Park by Mariah Fredericks is a best mystery. Even the title of this book is a clue. Every suspect has a mega-motive.
Wendy was a student at an exclusive prep school in New York City, until she was found dead in a park after a party. The media frenzy begins immediately. Vicious gossip circulates like a wildfire. Rain, Wendy’s best friend from earlier years, hates these distorted images of Wendy’s actual identity. Rain, quiet and reluctant to speak out, determines that she will find Wendy’s killer and restore a valid memory of her friend.
Nico, Wendy’s boyfriend from the recent past, is a prime suspect in her death. Video surveillance cameras capture him leaving the party shortly after Wendy, and returning 45 minutes later. Wendy was having an affair with her favorite teacher. He might have had to kill her if she threatened to tell his wife. Then there’s Ellis who wanted to be Wendy’s boyfriend. And what’s the deal with Sasha who beats up Rain for talking with the police? Every suspect is legitimately suspicious. Every motive is convincing.
The plot thickens and then thickens some more. Clues are scattered all over the pages. Rain follows leads in conflicting directions, organizes information that sometimes seems contradictory, interviews suspects and – ultimately- identifies Wendy’s killer. Thoughtful readers may round up the facts and draw their own conclusion. Most readers will be racing through the chapters with only one thought: Let me get to the end as fast as possible, so I can find out who did it!
Reviewed by : FH
Themes : High school, Social Situations, Violence, Mystery and Detective Stories, Dating and Sex
CRITICS HAVE SAID
- Rain’s voice provides an authentic portrait of grief and powerlessness, while Fredericks (Crunch Time) offers profound, provocative commentary on what it means to grow up in the age of Facebook.
- [B]oth Rain and Wendy emerge as fully rounded, flawed characters that teens will recognize and connect with. A satisfying whodunit with enough clues and red herrings to keep mystery fans happy.
- The story starts off slowly, gradually building to a surprise ending. Rather than a heavy-handed explanation of Rain’s cleft palate, details are sprinkled throughout the story, building readers’ understanding of her communication difficulties and readers’ compassion for her.
School Library Journal
- The mystery unravels amidst a sensitive exploration of Rain’s coming to terms with her own quiet, demure personality, with its flaws and its advantages measured against Wendy’s extroversion and desire for recognition and love. The crime itself offers up multiple suspects before a triumphant resolution tinged with melancholy, a conclusion that highlights the fact that while growth is certainly possible, some people, unfortunately, never make it past the slights of high school.
The Bulletin of the Center for Children
IF YOU LOVE THIS BOOK, THEN TRY:
Henry, April. The Night She Disappeared. Henry Holt and Co, 2012. ISBN-13: 978-0805092622.
Fredericks, Mariah. Head Games. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2006. ISBN-13: 978-1416913351.
McMann, Lisa. Dead to You. Simon Pulse, 2012. ISBN-13: 978-1442403888.