Arthur Kevin Rein’s tension-filled YA tale revolves around a teen-aged boy dealing with personal challenges and a crime mystery.
As summers go, Sam, 17, knows this will be one of the worst. He’s working hard for his family’s failing lake resort, is in love with a seemingly unattainable girl, and his best friend is the son of the town’s richest man. His war hero brother died in Afghanistan, and the shadow of his accomplishments haunts Sam relentlessly. And suddenly there are bones washing up on the shoreline, the belt of a long-dead woman’s waitress uniform on the end of his fishing hook and aggressive attention from the press and important townsfolk. One mystery digs up yet another, and everyone is a suspect.
What begins as a mundane first-person narrative picks up plenty of speed and a surfeit of tension as Rein aims every possible element of the usual small town mystery at Sam and his eccentric cohorts. Meanwhile, the bank presses the family like a Croque Monsieur for money they don’t have, and fights in the resort lounge are drunken reveals about property rights and long-held family secrets.
As Sam’s social life picks up with the perfect girl in cabin #10, he and his friends investigate dark deeds of the past. When Sam uncovers an illegal operation that could be perpetrated by the town’s most upstanding citizens, a field filled with painted corn is just one of the insane sights that lead to a shocking ending.
Rife with smart, inquisitive, original characters who are allowed to act like both real kids and superheroes at the same time, the story rollercoasters through plot twists, leaving readers breathless. The story’s only flaw is its banal dialogue, which takes the literary quality down a notch.
Nonetheless, teens with a love for adventure will devour this far-from-simple mystery and its PG-style danger, seduction and intrigue. Rein’s work succeeds as an entertaining and exhilarating reading experience.