Thursday 26 May 2022

The Agathas

The Agathas by Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson (Harper Collins) ISBN 978 1460 762455 RRP $19.99 PB

Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

This is a young adult murder mystery, set in an American town called Castle Cove. Rich student Alice Ogilvie finds herself no longer popular when she returns to school after faking her disappearance the summer before. Poor student Iris Adams accepts the school counsellor’s offer to tutor Alice for money. They are two opposites and don’t hit it off. However, when another student disappears for real, Alice and Iris get caught up in their investigation of her murder. Using the Agatha Christie novels Alice loves and Iris’s common sense and nerdy friends, the two girls piece things together to find the culprit, with some twists and wrong turns along the way.

Author Agatha Christie disappeared in real life for five days, after being betrayed by her husband and though she returned, she never explained the mystery of where she had been. Alice had tried to do a similar thing over the summer, after her best friend Brooke and her ex-boyfriend Steve got together, but it has backfired somewhat and now everyone at school hates her. The day after Halloween, Brooke disappears and it’s not long before her body is found, and Steve is arrested for her murder. Alice and Iris are not convinced Steve is guilty and want the police to investigate Brooke’s suspiciously acting stepfather. They are forced to take matters into their own hands and face some danger, to find out for themselves.   

Chapters are short with the point of view pretty much alternating between Alice and Iris. There are also text message conversations between other characters, social media feeds and news reports, adding extra points of view. Iris has a backstory of domestic abuse and a ‘where to get help’ page is at the end of the book for any readers in a similar situation. Quotes from some of Agatha Christie’s sixty-six novels are included at the start of many chapters along with a dedication to Agatha Christie ending in the words ‘Also, one bad bitch’.

The Agathas is written by Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson who, according to the acknowledgements, cowrote it remotely during the Covid pandemic on different sides of the US. It is a fast-paced mystery novel which introduces Agatha Christie to high school students.

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