cover image The Morgue and Me

The Morgue and Me

John C. Ford, . . Viking, $17.99 (313pp) ISBN 978-0-670-01096-7

Ford's dark and stellar debut, which nicely updates many classic mystery tropes, tells the story of high school valedictorian Christopher Newell, who takes a summer job at the hospital morgue before heading to college. Naturally, he stumbles across something he shouldn't—$15,000 in cash and a dead body that the medical examiner has ruled a suicide, even though the body had been shot five times in the torso. Certain that the medical examiner and the sheriff are connected, Christopher starts to investigate alongside Tina, a sexy young reporter for the local paper. The plot covers a wide range of characters, including Christopher's ex-neighbor (and crush), Julia; her police officer older brother, Tim; the town's mayor and his daughter; and Christopher's best friend, Mike, an amateur bookie. Christopher and Tina uncover interlocking mysteries involving blackmail, corruption and murder, which span years of the town's history. Ford spins a tale that's complex but not confusing, never whitewashing some of the harsher crimes people commit. The result is a story that holds its own as a mainstream mystery as well as a teen novel. Ages 12–up. (June)