Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Scarlett Undercover

Scarlett Undercover is a YA contemporary mystery by Jennifer Latham.

Independent, shrewd fifteen year old Scarlett finished high school two years early and now spends her time as a private investigator.

When she agrees to investigate the concerns of a little girl after her older brother seems to be “off” following a friend’s suicide – she doesn’t expect it to be a long investigation, more of a feel good case for a kid.

Yet when it becomes clear the suicide may have actually been murder, Scarlett finds herself getting entangled in a world of cults, curses and secrets that may tie into her own family tragedy…

Scarlett Undercover
is trying to be a lot of things.

It is trying to be diverse, by bringing a biracial, non-traditional Muslim main character into the limelight. It is trying to be clever and sassy, with a Veronica Mars angle with the teenage detective plot and droll protagonist dealing with a personal, unsolved crime. It’s trying to be slyly supernatural in a magical realism way.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me. Perhaps it tried a little too hard.

Okay, I am a big Veronica Mars fan – but there is a difference between a girl with a private detective dad who helps on his cases and therefore has picked up a lot, using her skill for requests like finding a lost dog, etc., and a character such as Scarlett who is living ALONE at the age of fifteen with an actual private detective BUSINESS.

This stretched the realm of my imagination a little too far. I’m all for suspending disbelief and going along with the story, but this premise mixed with the hard boiled noir attempt at stylization and lack of grounding before the action happened – it did not help.

As much as I tried, I could not connect to the characters or the plot. I was unable to finish the book and had to skim it a bit.

However, as always, there are many readers out there that found enjoyment in Scarlett Undercover – and you could very well be one of them! Read it for yourself and see what you think!

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