My thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Children’s UK for a review copy of this book.
Thisyoung adult mystery is the story of Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Calloway, the daughterof a real estate mogul who attends a post prep school, Knollwood Preparatory.She has just received an invitation to be inducted into the very secret club,the ‘A’s’ at the school for which she (and other initiates) will be given threedifficult challenges which will get them to push many boundaries. But Charlie’slife is plagued by another mystery—her mother disappeared ten years ago,literally all of a sudden, and no trace has been found of her. Grace Callowaywas from an ordinary, working class background so the Calloways only think theworst of her—her being a gold-digger and such. On the other hand, her mother’sfamily and friends believe Charlie’s father had something to do with hermother’s disappearance. When Grace’s brother, Charlie’s uncle Hank contacts herwith some information about Grace, she decides to start looking into thematter. As the story proceeds, we start to see different events in differenttimelines from the perspective of Grace, and also of Alistair, Charlie’sfather, besides Charlie herself. Going back and forth in time, the differentpieces of the puzzle start to come together.
While this was a mystery, one of my favourite genres, it was very different from the mystery stories I usually read, with the prep school setting, and Gossip Girl vibes (as the description itself said). But still I found it to be a pretty interesting read. I liked how the story switched between different timelines and viewpoints, which meant that at times, the reader had learnt more about the characters’ (Charlie’s parents and friends and relatives) complicated (very) backstories than Charlie had at that point, and one was waiting to see how she finds out and how it helps her put the puzzle together. Being in a school setting, there are the usual school storylines moving on alongside—escaping curfew, classes,homecoming dance, and even a touch of romance. Though most of the students are the typical prep-school rich kids (a la Gossip Girl), one does like Charlie,even if not many of the other characters. As far as the mystery itself was concerned, it turned out that there was more than one puzzle that needed solving, but about less than halfway into the book, one could more or less workout what the broad answers to the mystery would be and how the two main mysteries were connected. But despite that, I found the book did have me hooked and reading on, both because I wanted to see whether I was right, and how things would turn out for the characters. Also the whodunit I only figured out a little later. Although about 500 pages long (a little over in fact) the book didn’t feel like it was dragging at any point, and kept me interested all through. My rating: 4 stars for this one—for a mystery to get full points from me, it really has to surprise me or have a twist I didn’t see coming, which this one didn’t really. But still, it was a very enjoyable read.