I'm a firm believer that good writing is good writing -- we each have our preferred genres to read, but a skilled writer can captivate readers no matter the subject or style. The same is true with reading level -- I can think of some young adult books (Neil Gaiman's Coraline and Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain come to mind) that are as rich and enjoyable to the adult reader as they are to the young teenagers they're aimed toward.
Which explains why I zoomed through Sheryl Scarborough's debut novel, To Catch a Killer. The story is about high schooler Erin Blake, who is faced every day with the fact of her life that will always set her apart -- the brutal murder of her mother when she was an infant. In the small town where she lives, she will always be "That Girl," the one whose mom was killed by someone who is still on the loose.
When a second murder occurs and facts point to the killer being the same one who had destroyed Erin's family sixteen years earlier, Erin and her two best friends Spam and Lysa, and her hoped-to-be boyfriend Journey Michaels, set themselves the task of catching the killer before Erin herself becomes the next victim. It's a gripping thrill ride of a story, with strongly-drawn characters and a sympathetic protagonist who combines being a heck of a detective with being a real, down-to-earth teenager. Her friends are equally well written -- not the cardboard-cutout extras one sometimes sees in young adult novels, but living, breathing characters we'd know if we met them in the corner Starbucks.
To Catch a Killer will appeal not only to young adults but to anyone who likes a good mystery and appreciates powerful, colorful writing. Scarborough sets herself up for the possibility of sequels -- and all I can say is, I think she better be ready to make a series centering on Erin and her friends, because this one is going to bring readers in demanding for more.
[Note: To Catch a Killer is due for release on February 7 -- I was privileged enough to receive an advance copy. It's available for preorder at the link provided above.]