Release Date: November 1st 2016
Series: The Amateurs #1
Genres: Contemporary, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Romance, Thrillers & Suspense, Young Adult Fiction
Five years ago, high school senior Helena Kelly disappeared from her backyard in Dexby, Connecticut, never to be heard from again. Her family was left without any answers—without any idea who killed Helena, or why.
So when eighteen-year-old Seneca Frazier sees a desperate post on the Case Not Closed message board, she knows it’s time to change that. Helena’s high-profile disappearance is the one that originally got Seneca addicted to true crime. It’s the reason she’s a member of the site in the first place.
Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, she agrees to spend spring break in Connecticut working on the case with Maddy Wright, her best friend from Case Not Closed. However, the moment she steps off the train, things start to go wrong. Maddy’s nothing like she expected, and Helena’s sister, Aerin, doesn’t seem to want any help after all. Plus, Seneca has a secret of her own, one that could derail the investigation if she’s not careful.
Alongside Brett, another super-user from the site, they slowly begin to unravel the secrets Helena kept in the weeks before her disappearance. But the killer is watching…and determined to make sure the case stays cold.
THE AMATEURS is an addictive young adult mystery about a group of teens who set out to solve a cold case that they all have special connections to. Sara Shepard’s books are like candy; I always find them completely enjoyable and hard to put down. I never finished the Pretty Little Liars series but I can definitely see how far the author has come.
THE AMATEURS was well set up, nothing seemed to be too rushed or too slow. The relationships, both platonic and romantic, developed naturally and easily. All of the characters had really interesting dynamics with each other and it was interesting to see how their individual personalities played off one another (and sometimes clashed).
The writing was descriptive without being tedious, and I found it very easy to read. One thing that did bother me was the pop culture references, although it is a totally personal preference. It actually brings me out of the book and story instead of immersing me into the world.
There were a lot of turns in this book, but only one development that I would consider a twist – and it was a big one. Totally unexpected, it was a real game changer, and I absolutely cannot wait to see where it takes the characters in the next book. In fact, it makes me want to reread this one all over again to see if I could have seen the clues earlier. I can’t say much more without spoiling, but it is definitely a cool twist.
All that said, my major issue with the book was that I thought it lacked clues about the perpetrator. With mysteries, I like to be able to form my own guesses from clues, even if I am being purposely misled, but I noticed that was absent here. The characters sort of came up with things and made connections out of nothing so it seemed impossible to be able to guess the “Who Did It.”
I would recommend THE AMATEURS to anyone who loves Sara Shepard’s other works, YA mysteries/crime stories, and even people that want to give the author another shot.