The Amateurs: Review

I fell ill after BEA… probably because I’m a writer who’s not used to having contact with others. 

Luckily, the timing was perfect: my revised manuscript is in my agent’s trusted hands and I have an enormous pile of shiny new ARCs to (literally) dive into.

2016-05-25 17.13.20 (2).jpgJust a tiny sampling. 1 of 5 piles.

My plan is to post reviews of ARCs over the next few months to give you lovely readers a sneak peek of some of the highly anticipated fall releases. And not to worry, there won’t be any spoilers in the reviews.

First up, THE AMATEURS by Sara Shepard.

Release date: November 1st 2016 by Disney-Hyperion.

2016-05-13 15.52.31.jpg

Synopsis from Goodreads:

As soon as Seneca Frazier sees the post on the Case Not Closed website about Helena Kelly, she’s hooked. Helena’s high-profile disappearance five years earlier 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.

So when Maddy Wright, her best friend from the CNC site, invites Seneca to spend spring break in Connecticut looking into the cold case, she immediately packs her bag. But the moment she steps off the train in trendy, glamorous Dexby, things begin to go wrong. Maddy is nothing like she expected, and Helena’s sister, Aerin Kelly, seems completely hostile and totally uninterested in helping with their murder investigation.

But when Brett, another super user from the site, joins Seneca and Maddy in Dexby, Aerin starts to come around. The police must have missed something, and someone in Dexby definitely has information they’ve been keeping quiet.

As Seneca, Brett, Maddy, and Aerin begin to unravel dark secrets and shocking betrayals about the people closest to them, they seem to be on the murderer’s trail at last. But somewhere nearby the killer is watching . . . ready to do whatever it takes to make sure the truth stays buried.

This was a fast-paced, engrossing read with beautiful writing. Sara writes in close third person and switches between characters in each chapter. I thought this was a brilliant strategy: the third person decreased the need for each voice to be distinct (as would be necessary in first person), but switching between characters gave the reader a window into each person, making me feel like I knew everyone by the end.

The cast is diverse—always a plus! Seneca is intelligent (my favorite quality in a heroine), a little awkward, ballsy, and with a fascinating past that Sara feeds to us slowly, giving us just enough to keep us turning the page. Aerin was beautifully written and completely believable as the survivor of such a tragic childhood. I found her fascinating: her motivations for being promiscuous felt genuine, and the defensive wall she struggled to hold up (despite the mess inside) was well-done.

The romance was believable and swooney in the right places. I was rooting for the characters to get together. I’m hoping for even more romance in the following books!

The hidden connections between the cast also amped up the tension, and Sara is an expert at giving us just enough crumbs to make us ask questions without giving away the answers.

As for the end… I love when a book surprises me, and this one definitely did. I didn’t see any of it coming. And that was even in spite of my trying to read between the lines. When I went back to re-read sections, I realized the crumbs were there all along but hidden so incredibly well. It was so satisfying—that perfect mix of being surprised, yet everything made sense. Incredibly well done! And despite it being the first in a series, this book is a standalone that wraps up well…while still making me freak out that the second book won’t be out for a long time!

This was a quick read with so much tension and suspense in each sentence. I devoured it in a few days.

There is unfortunately not much more I can say without giving away spoilers, but long story short: I highly recommend this book!

Up next: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco!

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