Book Review: A Killing Among Friends, by Toni Morrow Wyatt

cover73486-mediumNumber of Pages: 282
Chapters: 34
Published: August 10th 2015
You can find this book here: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis: Sennie Lacefield has always felt safe at her family’s peaceful mountain lodge…

The only break in her tranquil life was the death of her boyfriend Patrick Devon, which left her heartbroken and unable to understand Patrick’s sullen, withdrawn brother Lonnie. But when her best friend Reatha Alcoker disappears, her sense of security is shattered. With the help of Reatha’s boyfriend Milo Durham, she launches a search for her friend.

More girls disappear, and bodies begin turning up…

When one of the missing girls is found dead in a swamp with a symbol burned into her forehead, Sennie focuses on her growing list of suspects. She can’t count on help from the lazy, lecherous Sheriff Warford Cackley. She also has suspicions the sheriff’s son Rex and his nasty friend Ottis know more than they’re willing to share.

Someone is watching Sennie’s every move…

Refusing to believe Reatha is dead, Sennie and Milo continue their frantic search, and Sennie is plagued with threatening messages. When another girl’s body is discovered, she and Milo visit the site and find evidence that Reatha has also been there. Some aerial photographs might hold a vital clue…if they can find them in time.

As Sennie unravels a tangled web of secrets, arson, burglary, and murder, could it be that a desire to help Sennie has warped the mind of a murderer?

Review: Two things I am not a fan of. They are not about the story itself, nor do they affect my rating.
1. The synopsis is too long. I think it would’ve been better if the synopsis stopped here: “More girls disappear, and bodies begin turning up… “. At least, this is my opinion. Maybe others don’t have a problem with it. 🙂
2. The cover. It is not hideous, or anything like that, but I think it would’ve look better without the girl’s body. Or maybe a hand, or a face above the water. To be honest, at first I thought it was a little boy.
Now to the actual review.
A Killing Among Friends is a young adult stand alone novel. In my opinion, it is suitable for thirteen years old and up. Yes, it deals with murder and teenagers missing, but there are no gore scene or disturbing descriptions.
One of the things I liked about this novel is that the protagonist has loving parents. Usually, in YA the main characters have shitty parents for some reason. While there are many teenagers who have bad parents and can relate, you cannot write only about them. What I’m trying to say is, we need more diversity in YA novels; different characters, with different situations.
I also appreciated the fact that there is no unnecessary cursing (using “bad words” just for the sake of using them).
The writing is clean, and nice. The chapters are short, and the novel is a fast read.The idea behind the book is pretty good. It is not only about murder and finding Reatha, but also about the importance of friendship and family. There is little, to no romance in this novel.  Sennie mentions a few times that she loves Patrick, but that’s about it.

The book opens with a chapter from the killer’s point of view. I though it was catching. However, after that we do not get more chapters from his perspective, which is a pity. I think the killer’s point of view would’ve add more to the story. It would’ve give us a chance to understand him better.

The story is a third person narrative. Therefore it is not focused so much on the character’s thoughts, rather on their actions. Third person narratives are my favorite. 🙂

I like the place’s description. It seems like a really nice place, and I love mountains. I envy Sennie a little bit. He he.

I don’t understand something. Since people have trucks and TVs, I suppose the novel is set in our century. Then, how come they don’t have cellphones and internet? Or maybe they do, but it is not mentioned. For example, Sennie’s mum doesn’t call someone,  instead she drives there in order to let him/her know something important. Or when Sennie learns about the mark, why doesn’t she google it to see what it is about? Or maybe go to the library, and search for occult symbols or something?!

Sennie is suppose to find her best friend. She does have a list of suspects, but not because she plays detective. Sennie thinks about the people in her town, and makes mental notes/remarks. Also, as I mentioned, she does not do any research to find out more about the symbol. Sennie keeps saying that she will not stop searching for her best friend until she finds her, but she does not do much. Milo is the one who comes up with ideas, and clues. I would’ve love to see more action from her. Yes, she does go out with Milo to search for clues, and she does  manage to find her best friend, but it takes her more than 2 months to do so. I just wanted to see more initiative from her, more Nancy Drew kinda action. By the way, what happened with the notebook on Sennie’s floor? Did she check it out, and see why it was on the floor?

Don’t get me wrong. There are some interesting plot twist, and you’ll keep guessing who the killer is. After a certain scene, I did guess who is the murderer, but I wasn’t sure, since other characters seemed suspect as well. In other words, like Sennie, I had a short list of suspects, and in the end one of them was, in fact, the murderer. Also, because of everything that was happening, you get the impression that there are more than one person; the killer was working with someone, or there were two different people.

Another thing. Too many scenes where the character eat, do chores, dress, go to the store, and so on. They’re not boring (you get to know the characters a little bit better), but they don’t add much to the plot. Once or twice is alright, or when it leads to something else, like Sennie seeing the fire.

At the end of the novel, the killer explains why he did what he did. I’ll be honest, I don’t understand it completely. His reasons seems to be a little bit ridiculous. This why I mentioned that I would’ve like more scenes from his perspective.

I do believe teenagers will like it, especially if they’ve never read a book about crime. It is a nice, easy read it. I recommend it for everyone who wants to kick back, and relax. The author’s writing is lovely, and she has a lot of potential.

Rating:  -4/5. I don’t think it is a 3.5 or 3.75  book, neither a solid 4. Therefore, I have to settle with -4 ~ somewhere between 3.75 and 4.
(because of everything I mentioned above).

Disclaimer: I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I would like to send a big thank you to NetGalley for this novel, and also to everyone at Little Tiger/Stripes Publishing, as well as Tom Becker himself.

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