Inspired in part by the West Memphis Three, this is a gripping but muddled and overwrought mystery set in the white community of Fayette, PA.
Ten years after Tessa Lowell and Callie Greenwood were key witnesses in the conviction of the Ohio River Monster, killer of four young women including Tessa’s cousin, another murder takes place which raises doubts that the right man is now on death row. Filled with guilt that they may have been instrumental in an innocent man’s conviction, Tessa and Callie, now 18 years old, decide to investigate the murders themselves.
The blue collar milieu is evoked well, particularly that of the bored and prospectless teens, and the author does a good job of showing the long term effect the murders had on the families in this small town community. Tessa’s narration is fairly standard disaffected teen girl, though her dysfunctional family background is vividly written.
The oddly paced plot is filled with wheel-spinning dead ends followed by an overstuffed finale that lacks suspense. Coincidences abound, and a late entering twist offer a satisfying, if not particularly credible, solution.
I reviewed this from an ARC, so it may well be tightened up before publication, and heavy promotion suggests that the publisher has confidence that this serial killer psychological thriller will intrigue teen readers.