Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
May 19, 2015
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A voice-driven mystery perfect for fans of Veronica Mars.
Meet Scarlett, a smart, sarcastic, kick-butt, Muslim American heroine, ready to take on crime in her hometown of Las Almas. When a new case finds the private eye caught up in a centuries-old battle of evil genies and ancient curses, Scarlett discovers that her own family secrets may have more to do with the situation than she thinks -- and that cracking the case could lead to solving her father's murder.
Jennifer Latham delivers a compelling story and a character to remember in this one-of-a-kind debut novel.
A lot of books are pitched as, 'perfect for fans of Veronica Mars.' Scarlett Undercover may be the first one I have read where I really agree.
Scarlett is the smart and sarcastic character she's described as. She's also really a private-eye. She has an offices, she has cases and a (very good) reason why she's investigating.
I loved that she had a fairly innocuous introduction to the case that would become the focus of the novel. At first, it's not even a case Scarlett is sure she should take. It seems like it's hardly anything for her to do . . . but she takes it. Our introduction to the case and to Scarlett's client tell us quite a lot about Scarlett, who she is and how she operates.
It's a great introduction and I liked things even more the deeper Scarlett got into the case. They sort of mythological, otherworldly aspects to it (see genies and curses) was unexpected but it actually all fit in really well. I enjoyed that the unfolding of the case was gradual with clues, discoveries and difficulties that all made for a great mystery.
Another thing I liked about Scarlett Undercover was that Scarlett is Muslim. That fact alone is good because yay diverse books, but how it was done was what I really liked. It wasn't just a declaration, 'Scarlett is a Muslim American,' and that was the end of it. Her faith was a part of who she was and impacted things with her character and the story. It wasn't something done just to say the book has a diverse character. Scarlett is Muslim and it was truly made a part of her character and the novel as a whole.
Jennifer Latham's debut is a great read with a quicky, funny, smart main character and a nicely done mystery. There secondary characters were all memorable and well written, too,. I am looking forward to the author's next title.