by Romily Bernard
To be published on September 24, 2013
Source: ARC from publisher via Edelweiss
Connect with the author: website | Twitter | Facebook.
Summary (from Goodreads:) “Find Me.” These are the words written on Tessa Waye’s diary. The diary that ends up with Wick Tate. But Tessa’s just been found . . . dead. Wick has the right computer-hacking skills for the job, but little interest in this perverse game of hide-and-seek. Until her sister Lily is the next target. Then Griff, trailer-park boy next door and fellow hacker, shows up, intent on helping Wick. Is a happy ending possible with the threat of Wick’s deadbeat dad returning, the detective hunting him sniffing around Wick instead, and a killer taunting her at every step? Foster child. Daughter of a felon. Loner hacker girl. Wick has a bad attitude and sarcasm to spare. But she’s going to find this killer no matter what. Because it just got personal.My take: By total coincidence, I read a lot of books about hackers this summer. Don't Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon. A non-fiction book called We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency by Parmy Olson. And now, Find Me. My takeaway: the hacker subculture is a strange and fascinating one.
Find Me definitely had a Veronica Mars vibe that I loved. Main character Wicket, a foster child and hacker, breaks into the online accounts of allegedly cheating spouses to make extra cash. I liked Wick a lot, even though her name brought to mind the game of cricket and I suspect was chosen just so Griff, the love interest, could call her "Wicked." This could have been annoying, but it flustered poor Wick so much that I began to get on board with it all.
Wick is intensely protective of her younger sister, Lily. She's disturbed by the fact that she's being spied on by Detective Carson, who suspects she knows the whereabouts of her drug dealer father. She's saddened by the suicide of her classmate, Tessa Waye. And she's perplexed when someone drops Tessa's diary on her front porch with a note that says "find me."
I thought this whole set-up was great, offering a lot of possibilities for both characterization and tension. Wick and Lily live with their foster parents, Todd and Bren, but also under the shadow of their mother's death and their father's drug dealing. Wick is wary and prickly, in contrast to Lily, who's more sunny and optimistic. Lily's happy to take the new clothes that Bren buys her and forget her past, while Wick clearly fears that she might be a little too much like her lawbreaking father. Guy-next-door Griff was also an intriguing character and the developing relationship between him and Wick was fun to watch.
So… I have zero basis to evaluate the plausibility of the hacking undertaken in this book. But if you're a regular blog reader, you know that I'm a HUGE mystery fan. As a result, I'm probably more nitpicky about mysteries than any other kind of book. As soon as one particular character appeared on the page, it was as if s/he was wearing a giant sign with an arrow that said "I Did It." I'm not always 100% correct at guessing the culprit in mysteries, but given the clues revealed in Tessa's diary, it seemed to me that there were really no other viable suspects.
Then we have the matter of Wick's involvement in the mystery. I feel strongly that amateur detectives -- unless they are nosy old ladies in small English or American villages with nothing better to do -- need some sort of personal stake in solving a crime. Wick and Tessa weren't close friends, so there was really no compelling reason for a standoffish person like Wick to get involved. (Yes, there was the matter of the killer targeting Lily, but that seemed a little overwrought and, in the end, made the identity of the killer a little improbable.) The second problem faced by amateur detectives is access to the details of the case. Luckily, that was not an issue in Find Me, as rather than poring over (or hacking into) police reports, Wick used her computer skills to flush the killer out. I enjoyed this "cat and mouse" aspect of the book a lot.
Not everything was neatly tied up by the last page, but then the last page also makes it clear that Wick's crime-solving days are far from over. That's great, because I'm a fan of this book and of Wick, Detective Carson, and Griff, and will enthusiastically read the next installment of their story.