- ISBN-13: 9781481462006
- ISBN-10: 1481462008
- Publisher: Simon Pulse
- Publish Date: October 2016
- Page Count: 352
- Reading Level: Ages 14-UP
- Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.97 pounds
Series: Strange Truth
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-08-01
- Reviewer: Staff
This convoluted first book in the Strange Truth series follows teenage outcasts Benny Flax and Virginia Leeds, the sole members of Winship Academy’s Mystery Club, as they investigate the suspicious death of a classmate, Brittany Montague. When a school-mascot-costume-clad Brittany flees the Friday night football game, runs into the woods, and plunges off a bridge into a ravine, everyone assumes that it’s a suicide. Benny and Virginia are dubious, though, and while the police search Atlanta’s Chattahoochee River for a corpse, the detecting duo unearths evidence suggesting that Brittany was murdered. There’s a lot more going on at Winship Academy than meets the eye, and Benny and Virginia soon realize that unless they catch the killer, no one is safe. Thrash (Honor Girl) squanders an intriguing setup with cartoonish characters, preposterous plot twists, and an unsatisfying conclusion. Any warmth or depth conferred by Benny and Virginia’s unlikely friendship is undermined by the flippancy with which Thrash tackles such topics as stalking, rape, death, and child pornography. Ages 14–up. Agent: Stephen Barr, Writers House. (Oct.)
The Mystery Club takes its first case
Fifteen-year-old Benny Flax and Virginia Leeds are the only two members of Mystery Club, an extracurricular group that is sorely lacking in both participants and crimes to solve—until the Friday night football game when cheerleader Brittany, dressed as the school’s mascot, inexplicably runs off the field and jumps off a bridge. The police are quick to rule Brittany’s death a suicide, but Benny and Virginia think differently after they discover camera footage of both the cheerleaders’ locker room and the apparent suicide. With Benny’s keen level of observation and Virginia’s ability to go unnoticed, the two decide to investigate the mystery themselves, even if it means lying to police and breaking the law. Because for Benny and Virginia, Mystery Club is all they have.
Maggie Thrash, author of the graphic memoir Honor Girl, has penned a kooky mystery that should be read through the lens of an Amy Schumer skit. The characters and the school itself are clever caricatures, and readers shouldn’t expect a lot of depth. Benny is analytical and clever, but he struggles to connect socially, while Virginia makes meek attempts to transform her reputation as a gossip and busybody (what better way to do that than to investigate your fellow classmates for murder?). There’s a healthy dose of humor with the crime, although the satire may not resonate with all readers.
Kimberly Giarratano is the author of Grunge Gods and Graveyards, a young adult paranormal mystery.