by Sheryl Scarborough
To be published on February 7, 2017
by Tor Teen
Source: ARC from publisher for review
Synopsis: Erin Blake has one of those names. A name that, like Natalee Holloway or Elizabeth Smart, is inextricably linked to a grisly crime. As a toddler, Erin survived for three days alongside the corpse of her murdered mother, and the case—which remains unsolved—fascinated a nation. Her father's identity unknown, Erin was taken in by her mother's best friend and has become a relatively normal teen in spite of the looming questions about her past. Fourteen years later, Erin is once again at the center of a brutal homicide when she finds the body of her biology teacher. When questioned by the police, Erin tells almost the whole truth, but never voices her suspicions that her mother's killer has struck again in order to protect the casework she's secretly doing on her own. Inspired by her uncle, an FBI agent, Erin has ramped up her forensic hobby into a full-blown cold-case investigation. This new murder makes her certain she's close to the truth, but when all the evidence starts to point the authorities straight to Erin, she turns to her longtime crush (and fellow suspect) Journey Michaels to help her crack the case before it's too late.My take: I'm always up for a good mystery, so I was excited to try To Catch a Killer. And there's so much about this book to like. First, Erin was a great main character -- smart and relatable. She hasn't had an easy life -- after the death of her mother ,she's been raised by her mom's best friend, and the fact that her mom's murder remains unsolved has cast a shadow over Erin's life.
Along with her friends, Lysa and Spam, Erin runs an investigation business where she delves into stuff like possibly cheating boyfriends, etc. But she's also secretly trying to solve her mother's murder. And when her beloved biology teacher is killed and Erin discovers the body, she's plunged into yet another dangerous mystery. Anyone else getting a Veronica Mars vibe?
I loved that this book featured a lot of forensic science. If you're a fan of shows like CSI, this story will be right up your alley. I loved the friendship between Lysa, Erin and Spam. And I loved the relationship between Erin and her "aunt" Rachel, who took Erin in after her mom's death and provides a great, supportive adult presence.
I also thought the mystery in To Catch a Killer was well-crafted, with a lot of red herrings. The only thing that gave me pause was that Erin had a LOT of convenient sources of inside information for her investigations -- a high school biology teacher who knows all about forensics, a best friend whose father is a lawyer, an uncle who's an FBI agent, her aunt's best friend who is a police officer, and a part-time job at the police department... While I do understand that it's hard to get a teen detective access to information, I thought that this much access strained credulity a little bit.
Still, this book is engaging and fun, with a main character I loved and a mystery that kept me guessing. If you're a mystery fan or a Veronica fan, definitely give this a try. I'll be giving away a copy on Freebie Friday, so please stop by!