A chill down the spine always helps beat the heat. From Jasper Dent’s serial-killer dad to a supernatural stalker, the villains of these YA murder mysteries will keep readers up all night.
In Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers, Jasper — Jazz — Dent helped the police catch a copycat murderer imitating notorious serial killer Billy Dent — Jazz’s “Dear Old Dad.” In this sequel, Game, Jazz travels to New York to consult on a bewildering new case. Unbeknownst to him, girlfriend Connie follows, and the two are sucked into the killer’s “game.” Plenty of gory suspense and plot twists will satisfy thriller fans, but Jazz’s struggle to unlearn the macabre life lessons imparted by his father is just as compelling as the murder mystery. (Little, Brown, 13 years and up)
Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s The Watcher in the Shadows is equal parts mystery, horror, and romance. After their father’s death, Irene and her brother move to the Normandy coast with their mother, who has secured work as a housekeeper at the Cravenmore estate. Irene falls in love with Ismael, the cousin of her friend Hannah. But Hannah’s sudden, mysterious death reveals a malevolent force at Cravenmore: a shadow with a mind and will of its own. Zafón’s accomplished storytelling — a clever plot, sympathetic characters, and a richly detailed 1930s setting — combines with a haunted, melancholy tone to create an eerie supernatural murder mystery. (Little, Brown, 13 years and up)
Wannabe-investigative-journalist Dylan, star of Tim Tharp’s snappy whodunit Mojo, stumbles across the body of Hector Maldonado. The police shrug off Hector’s death; meanwhile, on the affluent side of town, the cops search for popular-girl Ashton Browning. Dylan, along with his best friend Audrey and a girl named Trix they are both crushing on, sees a connection between the two cases and begins his own investigation. His suspicions are far-ranging, and readers are privy to all of his wild theories; most will find themselves one step ahead of the hapless protagonist. (Knopf, 13 years and up)
Nobody’s Secret, set in 1846 Amherst, Massachusetts, stars a sleuthing fifteen-year-old Emily Dickinson. She’s charmed by a young man who refuses to tell Emily his name, saying only “I’m nobody important.” When “Mr. Nobody” turns up dead in her family’s pond, Emily is determined to find out who he was and how he died — since she deduces it was not by drowning. Author Michaela MacColl gracefully folds factual elements of Dickinson’s life and work into the mystery while also highlighting her youthful sociability, intelligence, and curiosity. (Chronicle, 11–14 years)
From the July 2013 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.