To Catch A Killer – Sheryl Scarborough – Tor Teen – Published 7 February 2017
Erin Blake has one of those names. A name that, like Natalee Holloway or Elizabeth Smart, is inextricably linked to a grisly crime. As a toddler, Erin survived for three days alongside the corpse of her murdered mother, and the case—which remains unsolved—fascinated a nation. Her father’s identity unknown, Erin was taken in by her mother’s best friend and has become a relatively normal teen in spite of the looming questions about her past.
Fourteen years later, Erin is once again at the center of a brutal homicide when she finds the body of her biology teacher. When questioned by the police, Erin tells almost the whole truth, but never voices her suspicions that her mother’s killer has struck again in order to protect the casework she’s secretly doing on her own.
Inspired by her uncle, an FBI agent, Erin has ramped up her forensic hobby into a full-blown cold-case investigation. This new murder makes her certain she’s close to the truth, but when all the evidence starts to point the authorities straight to Erin, she turns to her longtime crush (and fellow suspect) Journey Michaels to help her crack the case before it’s too late.
To Catch A Killer lands the reader right in the middle of the action from the very first page. To Catch A Killer promises to be an exciting and suspense-filled murder mystery, with a touch of romance, a strong friendship, and likeable main character.
I was fortunate to receive a sample copy of the first 80 pages of To Catch A Killer. This book was already on my radar as a must-read YA mystery-thriller, and now that I have started reading I don’t want to stop.
Erin will always be known as the girl who was found next to her mother’s dead body. As a toddler, her world changed and she has grown to accept that as she grew up with her mother’s best friend as her guardian. But Erin has always wanted to know what happened to her mother. The killer was never found and Erin was never given answers. It has fueled her interest in forensic science and police procedure. Erin’s life is thrown into chaos when she discovers the body of her beloved science teacher, who was helping Erin find answers about her never-identified father. Erin sees classmate Journey Michaels fleeing the scene, but it is Erin herself who is the prime suspect. Erin determines to do some investigating for herself and is shocked to find a link between her teacher’s death and her mother’s murder.
I steamed through these first few chapters and now desperately want the remainder of the book. What happens next??? I loved how the intrigue starts right away. I loved the little snapshot flashbacks, filling out the scenes that lead up to current events, exactly like someone would relive in the moment. They give the story life and grounding.
Some YA mystery novels feel contrived or ridiculous, because really, would the teens be in that situation? But not To Catch A Killer. The characters are smart, and the situation is more than believable, it is totally compelling. Tell me more!!!!
Erin is an instantly likeable character. Something about her voice makes her very relatable. Erin and her friends Spam and Lysa have already dabbled in detective work, combining their forensic skills (Erin, learnt from studying her mother’s case, and her uncle’s work as a forensic investigator), computer and hacking skills (Spam, a by-product of working in her father’s computer store) and profiling (Lysa, learnt from her psychologist mother and lawyer father) to help out classmates. How cool is that? Erin even has her own secret lab hidden in the attic. So they are well-equipped to do a little investigating of their own.
I can’t wait to read the entirety of this novel, I can’t wait to find out what happens next and what Erin will uncover.
The publishers provided advanced reader sample chapters of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Murder, detective, crime scene investigation, family, friendship, mystery, crime.
Reading age guide: Ages 12 and up.
Advisory: Will be updated once book has been read in full.
Published: 7 February 2017 by Tor Teen.
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 320 pages.