cover image See No Evil

See No Evil

Jamila Gavin, . . Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16.95 (198pp) ISBN 978-0-374-36333-8

Whitbread winner Gavin (Coram Boy ) holds nothing back when plotting her layered novel about human trafficking, and the end result is shocking, though the story is occasionally confusing to wade through. The book follows Nettie, a spoiled 12-year-old, as she adapts to a gargantuan new home in present-day London and, later, to a prestigious school after years of homeschooling. Nettie's privileged setup takes a dark turn when her beloved live-in tutor, Miss Kovachev, disappears, leaving behind a mysterious journal. With the help of the doorman's son, Nettie attempts to find her and uncovers some sinister family secrets. Nettie's discoveries are sandwiched between excerpts from Miss Kovachev's diary: her leaving Bulgaria in shame; her arduous journey to London while pregnant; and her involvement in an undercover investigation attempting to link Nettie's father to an international trafficking ring. While Nettie is infuriatingly naïve as a heroine, she feels realistic, given her sheltered upbringing. Though it can feel like Gavin is trying to cover too much ground at once, a slow stream of revelations and the book's rich sense of setting give it the air of a modern gothic mystery. Ages 12–up. (June)