The Amateurs by Sara Shepard, published by Hot Key Books on 6th October 2016
When Aerin Kelly was eleven, she idolised her seventeen-year-old sister, Helena, and they did everything together. But when Helena went into senior year things started to change. Rather than being Aerin's inseparable sister, she started to push her away. Then, on a snowy winter's day, Helena vanished.
Four years later, Helena's body is found. Wracked with grief and refusing to give up on her sister, Aerin spends months trying to figure out what exactly happened to Helena and who killed her. But the police have no leads. A young, familiar officer named Thomas wants to help and suggests she checks out a website called Case Not Closed. Hesitantly, she posts, and when teenagers Seneca and Maddox show up on her doorstep offering to help investigate she accepts in desperation. Both have suffered their own losses and also posted to the site with no luck, so they are hoping this case might be the one they crack. But as their investigation begins, it seems that maybe it's no accident that they are all together, and that maybe the crimes have something - or someone - in common.
This is a gloriously twisty who-dunnit. One of my favourite kind of books to read, as I have so much fun attempting to unravel the mystery. In this case, the puzzle of who killed Helena, Aerin Kelly's big sister and why.
Sara Shepard has followed in the footsteps of her hugely successful Pretty Little Liars series and written a story with the same sense of mystery and intrigue. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep readers on their toes and there are lots of tiny clues thrown in which you need to watch out for. I love stories like this which keep me glued to the pages.
Initially, I'll admit that I wasn't entirely sold on some of the characters. There's Aerin herself, who desperately wants to find her sister's killer, Seneca who thrives on solving cold cases, plus Maddy, Brett and co. They all grew on me however and I liked the way that they bounced ideas off each other and everyone helped to piece all the clues together. They each had different motivations for wanting to investigate the case and it was interesting learning more about them as individuals and their own dark pasts.
The second half of the book was even better than the first as secrets start to get spilt and peoples' true characters come to light. The ending was a stroke of pure genius and was brilliant because I never saw it coming. 'The Amateurs' was a super read and I'm thrilled that there will be another instalment in the series next year. There's no doubt that I will be lining up to get my hands on it.