cover image A Line in the Dark

A Line in the Dark

Malinda Lo. Dutton, $17.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-735-22742-2

In this unusually structured murder mystery, Lo (Inheritance) explores the knotty jealousies, romantic longings, and class disparities among students at a pair of Massachusetts high schools. The first half of the novel is seen through the eyes of Jess Wong, a Chinese-American 16-year-old, who is in love with her best friend Angie but afraid to admit it. She’s even more reluctant to do so after Angie begins dating Margot, a popular athlete from a nearby private school. In addition to worrying that she’s losing Angie, Jess clashes with Margot’s friend Ryan, which turns Jess into a potential suspect after Ryan goes missing after a party and is eventually found dead. Jess’s insecurities and simmering emotions are palpable in her first-person narration, and the superhero comics she draws, which features a similar love triangle, further muddy the waters of the mystery behind Ryan’s death. Lo pivots halfway in, finishing the story through a mix of transcript of police interviews and third-person chapters, deepening the mystery, shifting potential guilt among multiple possible culprits, and keeping readers guessing until the final pages. Ages 14–up. Agent: Laura Langlie. (Oct.)