Deadly Little Sins

The Prep School Confidential trilogy, a set of young adult novels about murder mysteries at an exclusive boarding school (think Gossip Girl as written by Agatha Christie), concludes with Deadly Little Sins.

I reviewed the first book at the first link; the second was Wicked Little Secrets, in which protagonist Anne Dowling solves a 30-year-old student disappearance. You can read this newest one, Deadly Little Sins, without either of the others, although the characters will be deeper and more recognizable with the two previous novels under your belt.

Having almost been expelled for revealing her school’s dirty secrets, which involved high-powered alumni, Deadly Little Sins opens with Anne’s future in serious question. Doing the right thing isn’t necessarily comfortable or rewarded, particularly when rich and/or powerful people (senators and headmasters and the like) are involved. You can have the right answer and still wind up regretting it, since friends may not want to be associated with someone infamous.

The mystery this time around involves an ally from the previous book. A teacher that tried to help Anne turns out to have a secret of her own — she was at the school under a stolen identity — and now she’s gone missing. While Anne tries to figure out why the teacher took someone else’s name and what happened to her, there are the regular school activities, which make up my favorite part of the book. As a senior, Anne has been roped into helping with orientation.

Plus, there’s the romance. Anne has two potential hook-ups: Brent, a nice-in-spite-of-being-rich schoolmate, and Anthony, a townie with a motorcycle. But neither is now speaking to her after she left the school previously without explanation. Those are some significant relationships to repair while she decides which is more important to her.

The ending feels rushed, although I think author Kara Taylor is moving through things quickly to build suspense and acknowledge the book’s thriller status. Anne tends to less figure things out and more annoy people into trying to kill her, which reveals the true villain. The epilogue is particularly short and unsatisfying, as though Taylor’s trying to set up a different series. The trip to get there, though, is a nailbiter.

The entire trilogy is a great summer read, with life-or-death situations livened with the raised emotional stakes of adolescence. (The publisher provided an advance digital review copy.)

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