Why a YA mystery?

I do love a good mystery. A good mystery. Which eliminates roughly … all of them. Of course I’m exaggerating for comedic effect. As my divinity mentor was fond of saying, You are nothing if not a clown. And don’t touch that divinity, I just finished cooking it!

But seriously mystery fans, sometimes it seems that any object affected by gravity thinks it can pen a mystery novel. This, of course, makes for a lot of poorly written mysteries. On the other hand, a spiffing good conundrum offers rewards beyond even the wildest dreams of Melvin.

Mysteriously, today’s blog about mysteries began as something of a mystery itself. You see, I undertook a search (much as a dime-novel detective) of the catalog without a particular destination in mind, and soon found myself (surprisingly) delivered to the sub-genre of YA mysteries, uncharted waters for this reader.

Through some arcane process comprehensible only to a Floridian vote counter, I arrived at the title Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday. This book is a fairly standard take on the mystery genre, with young adult characters setting it apart as reading aimed at, wait for it, young adults. Here we find Hartley, a high school junior suspicious of her boyfriend’s fidelity. Rushing to his house for a confrontation she discovers the body of the girl he was allegedly dallying about with. The book does a most excellent job of creating a realistic teen culture and dulling the bite of a potentially disturbing topic with abundant humor. Incidentally, this is the first in a series of books featuring our protagonist Hartley Featherstone.

The search continued. In our newly-improved catalog, one can easily find suggestions of additional books that might be of interest to the searcher. Deadly Cool yielded the following:

Never one to turn down a name like The Reformed Vampire Support Group, I clicked on this title and discovered a promising description of vampires who are, anemic, whiny, unattractive, they feed on guinea pigs… I was sold at anemic. This book stands above the insurmountable glut of vampire books that have hit local bookselling establishments in recent years, offering a fresh take on vampire culture while throwing in some tip top murder and mystery to boot.

Another title that turned up in my search was Etiquette &Espionage by Gail Carriger. In a steampunk version of 1851 we find Sophronia Temminnick, an unusual 14-year-old girl who is more interested in machinery and shenanigans than in curtseying and obtaining a husband. These activities so aggravate her mother that the girl is unexpectedly whisked away to Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. However, unbeknownst to Sophronia’s mum, the school is actually an academy specializing in espionage and assassination. And this suits Sophronia just fine. Adventures, paranormal creatures and mystery abound in this amusing and exciting debut in the Finishing School series.

Other exciting YA mysteries recommended by the catalogue:

Down the Rabbit Hole by Peter Abrahams.

Black Mirror by Nancy Werlin

The Girl is Murder (1st in a series) by Kathryn Miller Haines

I So Don’t Do Mysteries (1st in a series) by Barrie Summy

I’d Tell You I Love You, but then I’d Have to Kill You (series) by Ally Carter

Ruby Redfort Look into my Eyes by Lauren Child

Ripper by Stefan Petrucha

Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Today’s lesson is this: One can find a young adult mystery that is suitable for an adult reader. And, just as in anything else, there are gems and there are maggots, but rooting out the maggots, as Hercule Poirot might have said with an outrageous accent, is at least one-third of the fun. So expand your horizons, take advantage of the cool features of the catalog, and most importantly, be careful out there.

Be sure to visit A Reading Life for more reviews and news of all things happening at the Everett Public Library.

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