- The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas
Library ed. ISBN 978-1-5247-1833-6 $20.99
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-5247-1832-9 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-5247-1834-3 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 9-12
Five years ago, five cheerleaders from the same squad died within weeks of each other. As the anniversary of their deaths approach, Monica, the younger sister of one of the girls, begins to have questions about the official stories of their deaths. Was the single car accident that killed the first two girls really what it seemed? Was the man killed by Monica’s policeman stepfather, Tom, the actual murderer of the second pair? And did Monica’s sister really commit suicide a few days after their funeral? Aided by a new friend at school, she sifts clues and draws conclusions that get her close to the truth and put her own life in danger. Beginning with Monica’s recovery from a seemingly unrelated abortion, this carefully plotted and well-paced novel repays attention to detail at every turn, concealing and revealing new evidence at just the right time to deepen the mystery and heighten suspense. Readers have a slight advantage over Monica as they see her sister Jen’s story for themselves in flashback chapters, but it takes new interpretations of old scenarios to bring the truth to light. Though at times she seems to jump to conclusions based on scant evidence, Monica is a methodical detective whose instincts turn out to be right and right on time—mostly. Even when the main mysteries are finally resolved, a surprising twist at the end snicks the last piece into place, providing a fully satisfying end to this absorbing procedural crime drama.