Wheeless masterfully weaves mature themes and an old-fashioned noir atmosphere into this playful premise, complete with a smooth-talking detective who has a soft spot for the damsel in distress. Nacho’s dialogue mirrors hard boiled mysteries and classic Dick Tracy comics, and the crime-solving teenager even has a signature cocktail of choice—an 1885, which is Dr. Pepper with a splash of chocolate syrup. His character shines, but Zadie also proves to be more than a blonde in need: she’s a complex character with a poignant backstory who matches Nacho’s gusto and enthusiasm for finding the truth. Along with a friend who provides him with the latest tech gadgets, a retired FBI agent, and a few of his fellow classmates, Nacho faces life-threatening obstacles and confirms that bravery is ageless.
The action, characters, and mystery quickly prove gripping and don’t let go until the harrowing conclusion. Stakes are continuously raised as Nacho dives into the disturbing underbelly of the murder victim’s personal life, and Wheeless doesn’t shy away from mature content such as self-harm and sexual assault. With a fast-moving plot and plenty of twists, Wheeless's polished story will leave readers craving more adventures with his dynamic teenage sleuth.
Takeaway: Perfect for mystery lovers craving a YA thriller with mature themes and a noir vibe.
Great for fans of: Maureen Johnson’s The Box in the Woods, Brittany Cavallaro’s A Study in Charlotte.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
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