Title: Death by Bikini
Author: Linda Gerber
Puffin Sleuth, May 2008
Recommended for: Adventurous teens, ages 12 and up, primarily girls
Aphra Behn Connolly leads a life that's very different from those of most sixteen year old girls. For one thing, she lives on an isolated island and helps her dad run a tucked-away five-star tropical resort that's a shelter for rich and famous celebrities who need a break from the public eye. And then there's the fact of not seeing her mother for four years when she left without a reason...Basically, Aphra's life is pretty simple, but then a mysterious family of three (including their hot son, Seth, and a load of dangerous secrets) arrive unexpectedly the day before one of the guests appears dead on the beach, seemingly strangled by the strings of her bikini top, and Aphra knows that her quiet, secluded life has been permanently altered...Aphra knows that the Mulos are hiding from something (or someone)....but what could it be? And could they be involved with the way-too coincidental murder that occurred right after they arrived? Aphra soon finds that their new guests' shady pasts have put everyone on the island's lives in danger, and she must protect the Mulos and their many secrets as well as her own life...because she doesn't know who to trust now.
To put it simply, this novel is awesome. After I hit the middle, I simply couldn't out the book down, maniacally flipping pages until I reached the exciting climax that had my heart pumping. The plot is so well-developed that I actually thought I was Aphra. Her internal monologue is so realistic, and her personality is just so totally kick-butt (I'm jealous)! One of the best parts of Death by Bikini, I think, is the fantastic dialogue. I love how Ms. Gerber makes it seem like real people are talking, and all the realistic accents and such. The setting is so well-described that while I was curled in my beanbag chair, I actually believed I was crashing through the tropical jungle with a killer on my heels in the pouring rain. And I loved all of the red herrings that Ms. Gerber presented! I thought I'd nearly solved the mystery, but boy, was I wrong as I neared the end! Which brings me to my next point: the one thing I was disappointed with was the end. I know it was probably meant to be a cliffhanger, but [spoiler] WHY OH WHY did Seth have to leave? Boo hoo hoo. Poor Aphra. At least there's a sequel, eh? And hey, lucky me, lovely Linda sent me a copy and it's sitting right on my bookshelf....Yay! Really. This is probably the best teen mystery I've read in a long while. This series is a total winner, and I love, love, love it. Consider this novel highly recommended. (: