cover image The Girl Is Murder

The Girl Is Murder

Kathryn Miller Haines. Roaring Brook, $16.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-59643-609-1

Adult mystery author Haines's YA debut is a meticulously crafted slow burn. It is 1942, and 15-year-old Iris Anderson's father has recently returned from Pearl Harbor with a prosthetic leg, after her mother's suicide. When financial difficulties force them to move from New York City's ritzy Upper East Side to the gritty Lower East Side, Iris longs to help her reclusive father with his detective agency to bring in money and escape from the daily struggles at her new public school, but he refuses, trying to protect her from immoral and dangerous clients. When a case involving a missing student at her school surfaces, Iris is determined to solve it, which leads her to spin a web of lies, befriend an observant outsider, ingratiate herself with the Rainbows (a group of fast girls and zoot suiters), and apply the emotional intelligence that she learned from her mother. Haines writes gracefully, immersing readers in Iris's perceptive thoughts, suffering, and transformation. Nuanced relationships and a social climate shadowed by ethnic tension and war result in a compelling reflection on a complex era. Ages 12–up. (July)