cover image Cold


Mariko Tamaki. Roaring Brook, $18.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-62672-273-6

In the early pages of Tamaki’s (Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me) atmospheric murder mystery, the body of 17-year-old white high schooler Todd Mayer—a gay, frequently bullied student—is found naked and frozen in a park. Struggling to piece together what happened, especially after uncovering Todd’s isolation and a homophobic bullying incident that targeted him, the detectives focus their investigation on the only teacher at Albright Academy who seems to show concern about Todd’s plight. Mr. McVeeter, gay and implied white, runs the social studies tutoring program in which Todd participated. Meanwhile, classmate Georgia, who’s “half Asian” and feels inexplicably connected to Todd because they are both queer, tries to make connections between the killing and something she saw. Narration alternates between the hazy third-person perspective of Todd’s ghost as he watches the investigation unfold, and Georgia’s chatty first-person telling. Tamaki does not shy away from depicting the effects of small-town homophobia through Todd’s isolation and McVeeter’s swift arrest, but glimmers of queer joy provide a balance. Though the book is at times awkwardly paced, fans of introspective mysteries such as Malinda Lo’s A Line in the Dark will be invested in the book’s resolution. Ages 12–up. Agent: Charlotte Sheedy, Charlotte Sheedy Literary. (Feb.)