Prep School Confidential
Anne is the new girl at an exclusive Boston boarding school because she accidentally set her New York school on fire, and her parents have shipped her out of town to avoid bad influences.
After only a week, her new roommate Isabella is found in the woods, murdered. Anne was quickly fitting in with the popular crowd, but she also had a real fondness for the geekier Isabella. In spite of the school authorities trying to close ranks against the attention, Anne determines to find out who killed her roommate in Prep School Confidential.
Prep School Confidential is Revenge for the Gossip Girl set, but I liked how clever Anne was, self-aware without being self-indulgent or too snarky in tone. Maybe calling it a modern-day Nancy Drew is more accurate, although this is more a thriller than a classic puzzle mystery. Author Kara Taylor does a good job of keeping Anne’s personality consistent when she goes from the center of attention as a Queen Bee to the COA as new girl to the COA as closest to the victim.
There’s an undercurrent of class distinctions, since Isabella wasn’t from the same privileged, spoiled class as Anne and her rival Alexis. Anne’s knows how easy she has it, a nice awareness for the character, and it also affects her romantic possibilities. One boy, Anthony, is Isabella’s twin, and he wears his resentment on his sleeve; the other, Brent, is a golden class leader. Both help in the investigations, entertainingly.
There’s a real sense of menace as Anne finds herself with no one to turn to, and she’s sometimes in real danger, portrayed suspensefully. Her parents don’t believe her, and the school authorities are covering up, so she’s left to her own wits and determination. I enjoyed following the twists as Anne pursues the case to its end.
Prep School Confidential is intended to be first in a series, with a preview chapter of the next book, due in 2014, included. In the sequel, Anne takes on an older mystery, the disappearance of a student in the early 1970s. I’ll be looking for it! (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)