cover image Seven Dirty Secrets

Seven Dirty Secrets

Natalie D. Richards. Sourcebooks Fire, $10.99 paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-72821-578-5

A mystery-obsessed teen with a dark secret embarks on an increasingly sinister scavenger hunt in Richards’s (Five Total Strangers) skillfully imagined thriller. When aspiring forensic scientist Cleo steps out of the shower on her 18th birthday, finding a small, beribboned present newly placed on the bathroom sink, she’s startled, and not only because it contains four slightly threatening lines—with her parents out of town, she’s home alone. Cleo figures that best friend Hope, who shares her own enthusiasm for pranks and “all things mystery,” placed the gift, but shock becomes serious concern when Hope proves uninvolved. A second box contains another poetry snippet—and a deadline—and subsequent clues invite the default-white duo to solve a puzzle, threatening that failure to comply will endanger Cleo and expose a secret she’d prefer to keep. Richards combines thriller and mystery elements while offering clever clues that hold the key to who is behind the puzzle and knows the secret of Cleo’s past. Richards is particularly adept at slowly revealing the nature of an earlier relationship while maintaining the suspense of the menacing scavenger hunt. Ages 14–up. Agent: Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary. (Nov.)