cover image All Fall Down

All Fall Down

Ally Carter. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-545-65474-6

Nobody believes that Grace saw a scarred man shoot her mother three years ago, insisting that she died in an accidental fire. Now, after being hospitalized and treated like she is “crazy,” 16-year-old Grace is getting a fresh start with her grandfather, the American ambassador to a fictional European country called Adria. But when the troubled and impulsive teen sees the scarred man in Adria and overhears him threatening another murder, she and her Embassy Row friends—Rosie, a former gymnast; Megan, a genius and hacker; and loyal Noah—try to stop him from striking again. This first book in the Embassy Row series from Gallagher Girls author Carter has plenty of promise, including clever characters, an underground tunnel system, and Grace’s hard-boiled narration (“whatever chance I had for normal disappeared three years ago”). The characters and setting are somewhat underdeveloped, and plotting can be farfetched, including Grace’s admission that she never wondered why someone would kill her mother. Even so, Carter knows how to construct a gripping thriller, and she leaves enough unanswered questions to keep readers eager for the next book. Ages 12–up. Agent: Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary Agency. (Jan.)