Book Review: The Smiley Killer By Julia Derek

***I received a free book in exchange for a review***

Seventeen-year-old Riley has been fascinated with crime investigation since she discovered CSI on TV. So, when it’s announced a serial killer is loose in the city, hell-bent on killing girls like Riley’s little sister, Riley’s on full alert. Not even Mark, the super hot college boy pursuing her, can get her mind off the case.

A victim found near the research lab where Riley’s friend Alyssa volunteers makes Riley think she’s found a lead: The killer’s signature—sad smileys—appears in the lab, so it seems the killer could be someone working there. Riley alerts Alyssa and the two notify the NYPD. But the police dismiss their claims.

Convinced she’s onto something, Riley embarks on her own investigation together with Alyssa. When another victim is found near the lab, it seems they’re close to finding the killer. Problem is, their prime suspect is a scientist’s younger brother—who happens to be Mark…

21570121I loved this book. The opening sentence “It took four dead girls for the NYPD to admit they had a serial killer on their hands” had me hooked right away. The story was written through Riley’s first person point of view. I admired her relationships with the other characters. She and her little sister, Cass, had a cute and entertaining back and forth dialogue. Even though the serial killer was hunting girls Cass’s age, she still held her ground that she should be able to go anywhere she wanted to go unchaperoned. I enjoyed Riley and Alyssa’s friendship. They were both busy (different priorities in life) but still managed to find time for one another. It took me back to my high school years, when it’s close to graduation and knowing my friends would be going to different colleges than me.

I appreciated that Riley acted like Harriet the Spy (my favorite spy of all time). She didn’t wait for clues to come to her; she actively sought out her own clues and came up with her own conclusions. I thought it was shady how Alyssa kept trying to get her to stop snooping. Was Alyssa sincere? Or up to something? is what I kept thinking throughout the story. The security guard who helped them seemed fun. He was really nice.

I liked the tension of Riley’s crush, Mark, being a suspect. Those scenes had me on the edge of my seat because I thought he could be the killer as well. I had four suspects, so the author did an amazing job of providing red herrings. The girls thought The Smiley Killer worked in Alyssa’s lab.

I wish facial expressions and/or body language would have been used more to emphasize the characters’ dialogue. It would have been cool to see them express their concerns, anger, confusion, sympathy, etc. in that way. I enjoyed the cliffhanger. Maybe there could be  a sequel?

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

For more information on the author and book:

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

 

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