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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

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 lo…

The Amateurs

by Sara Shepard

Overall Book Review:

The Amateurs is aptly named.  The sleuthing group kind of stumbles along on hunches and luck, making mistakes and jumping to conclusions along the way.  They are an eclectic cast of characters, high schoolers and college students from various backgrounds and ethnicities, who come together to solve a cold case murder.

There is a reference in the book to Veronica Mars, and this book actually has a very Veronica Mars setting–a wealthy community filled with entitled and partying teenagers.  There is plentiful drinking and abundant drama with the group checking out each other, their looks, and their attire.  The page count devoted to this might actually exceed the page count devoted to the murder mystery.

However, if the reader can tolerate the teenage soap operas and obsessions, they will be rewarded at the end.  In fact, perhaps all that distraction was all part of the plan of the author to camouflouge what was really going on because this mystery ends with a fabulous twist.  This is the first in a series and the conclusion of the book left things deliciously primed for the next.

Review of an electronic Advance Reading Copy provided by the Publisher

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  14 religious exclamations; 17 mild obscenities; 10 derogatory names; 35 scatological words; 13 anatomical terms; 6 f-word derivatives.

Violence/Gore:  A person goes missing and body/remains are later found, this incident and some details referred to many times throughout the book; website says that videos contain crime scenes with blood, bodies, etc.; talk about a couple of murders of family members; character is mugged/knocked unconscious; report of accident resulting in broken legs; character knocked unconscious and hospitalized, blood mentioned; speculation about murder and crimes; confrontation and struggle and threat to harm/hostage situation; character visualizes how a crime happened and the body was cleaned-up, a few details; threat/intent to harm; character thinks about tendons, tissue and bones when cracked, etc., brief.

Sex/Nudity:  Reference to making boobs and a vagina on a snowman; younger sibling asks older one if she and boyfriend “do it”; 2 page scene of teenage girl removing shirt and boy removing his and making out; reference to seducing boy; condom in bathroom; girl looks at her bra/boobs in mirror; several paragraph recollection of girl thinking about the times she made out with guys, took off her shirt for guys, etc.; reference to girls traditionally dressing at a party as half-hooker; character reference to never having sex; many instances throughout the book of members of the opposite sex checking out someone’s body, physique, tight clothing, etc. and thinking they are attractive/hot; general references to dirty jokes; reference to someone having sex with everybody or not; ask if someone is there for a hookup; character gets a message on phone and asks if that is a penis and decides to send an image back; reference to vaginas; character recollects a guy surprising her with his penis; it is learned/discussed that a teenager/now adult has had a long-time homosexual relationship with an adult, non-detailed; report someone was seeing someone; high school student kisses their coach; coach comes on to high school student and they kiss passionately; characters flirt; characters kiss; numerous sexual references such as sext, posting dirty things, etc.; report that a teenager had an affair with a much older, married person.

Mature Subject Matter:

Abduction/missing persons, parental abandonment, murder, death of a family member, illegal drug use and underage drinking, predatory sex with a minor.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Reference to partying at frat houses; teenagers consuming alcohol at a house party with references to participants being drunk and/or stoned and a person who is smoking from a gravity bong; reference to rager, pills; underage character drinks beer; high school students smokes marijuana in a some scenes, smells like it, offers it to others, etc.; underage characters bribe someone with a bottle of tequila; teenagers drink champagne and alcoholic drinks at a party; teenagers get extremely drunk at a party at a hotel (extended scene) with hangovers after; discussion with a drug dealer about who and where he delivered drugs to; teenagers drink wine; rum punch offered to teenagers; another party attended by teenagers and adults where minors openly drink; reference to ecstasy; adult and teenager smoke pot; men smoke cigars.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

An accountant and CPA by profession, I found myself a book reviewer for Squeaky Clean Reads by happenstance. When the opportunity came to transform that website into Compass Book Ratings, I was excited to seize it and meld my business background with my love of books. As the mother of three teenage sons, I have read a large number of children and young adult books and I believe that there is great value in a content review service. As much as we would love to read everything our children read, there just isn’t enough time. I also appreciate being able to select books for myself that are really worth my precious and limited reading time. I believe there is a book out there for everyone–they just have to find it!