The Amateurs by Sara Shepard (Allen and Unwin) PB RRP $16.99
Reviewed by Daniela Andrews
What really happened the day 17-year-old Helena Kelly disappeared? Did somebody take her, or did she choose to leave? Helena’s body was found four years later, not far from her family home, but the police couldn’t solve the murder and eventually closed the case. Aerin, Helena’s younger sister, seems to be the only one fighting for answers. Now aged 16 years old, she feels disengaged with the world (and her parents) but masks her depression by distracting herself with whatever means are available at wild teenage parties. At home, her sister’s death is all she can think about. She finds herself logging on to a website called ‘Case Not Closed’, and posts a desperate plea for help in finding her sister’s murderer. That’s how she meets Seneca, Maddox and Brett, amateur sleuths who want to help (each for their own reasons).
They team up together, each bringing different knowledge and ideas to the case. It isn’t long before the threats and attacks begin. Somebody in town knows they’re investigating, and they’re keen to scare them away. They believe the attacks mean they are getting closer to the truth … but perhaps the truth is even closer than they realise.
This is a gripping, cleverly written murder mystery for readers aged 12–16 years. There are plenty of plot twists and developments that drive the story forward, making this novel difficult to put down. It is the first in a new series of books by bestselling author Sara Shepard, who wrote Pretty Little Liars. The novel ends with quite a major plot twist, so I’m sure readers will be keenly awaiting the sequel (due to be published around the middle of 2017). The main characters are well developed, strong and likeable, each of them interesting for different reasons. It will be great to learn more about them as the series progresses.