St. Martin’s Griffin YA (over 9th grade) Mystery/Thriller
In this dark and angst-ridden book, Casey brings back amateur sleuth, Jess Tennant. Jess is visiting in an English village by the sea when a teenage boy is beaten half to death on Halloween night. She becomes involved in the case when the boy’s half-sister believes the local constabulary and the boy’s own family have no interest in solving the case. As she grows more involved in her investigation, Jess realizes that the victim was a predator on other teens and most are glad he got attacked.
This borderline sordid book is most definitely for older teens that are mature enough to endure the story and plot intricacies and often disturbing cruelty among the characters. Casey does a good job of making you guess who the bad guys/girls really are, but the story simply has too many characters and subplots that are often confusing and become jumbled as you try to sort through them. A series must bring new readers clearly into past events. Unfortunately, this is missing in Bet Your Life.
Casey has created a viable and interesting character in her protagonist, Jess Tennant, and definitely has a flair for creating tension and complex plots, but a little sorting out is needed to make this serious a hit.
This review was provided by Mahala Church for her column Barefoot Book Reviews in the April 2015 issue of The Book Breeze.