I listened to this which is unusual for me. Mostly I read books and listen to podcasts, but I saw this title in a year end best of list (sorry, I can’t remember which one) and San Francisco PL had an audio copy available so I went for it. I listened to it over the course of a couple of weeks – mainly on my walk home from work, and on a plane. The downside of listening to an audiobook this way is that it’s hard to take notes or highlight significant passages, which is what I do with a written book, so my review is going to be a bit thinner than you might otherwise expect.
16 year-old Zoe Webster and her mother have moved out of Manhattan to upstate New York, after her parents’ marriage broke up. Zoe sees this as a temporary move until she goes back to the city to go an elite private school, so she is very snooty about being in the burbs, and finds it hard socially. But then she is befriended by Philip Digby, a weird kid who is investigating the disappearance of a high school girl the previous summer.
Narrated with sharp and withering wit by Zoe, the mystery itself is fairly straightforward, but the investigation and resolution are excitingly and compellingly plotted. Digby gets Zoe way out of her comfort zone, and as they get deeper into the mystery, they lurch into the town’s underbelly, encountering an unethical gynecologist, a helpful drug dealer, and a sinister cult next door, in their pursuit of the truth.
Zoe’s smarty pants good girl demeanor contrasts well with Digby’s Sherlockian devil may care attitude to legal niceties, and the crackling dialogue and relationship between the two of them are what really gives this book its omph. A support cast of teens – “hero handsome” Henry, rich girl Sloane and geeky Felix (maybe could have done without that Asian stereotyping) – and adult characters, particularly Zoe’s mum, are all well-fleshed out.
The audiobook is narrated by Kathleen McInerney, who does a great job of giving each character a distinctive and appropriate voice, while keeping up with the helter skelter pace of the plot.
The ending leaves some questions unresolved, so readers (and listeners) will be hopeful that means more of Zoe and Digby in the future.