FICTION

Scarlett Undercover

320p. Little, Brown. May 2015. Tr $18. ISBN 9780316283939; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780316283892.
COPY ISBN
Gr 6–10—Sixteen-year-old Scarlett is a Sam Spade-talking, fedora-wearing Muslim American who runs her own detective agency in the gritty city of Las Almas. Scarlett's usual cases involve adultery and insurance fraud until a 10-year-old girl hires her to investigate a suicide. The minute the teen takes the case, she is tailed by two strange girls with gold circles in their eyes. Someone breaks into her apartment and steals a family heirloom. Even her closest friends start acting like the world is ending. Scarlett quickly discovers that her case isn't just about a suicide, but rather an ancient war between genies and the descendants of King Solomon. There is a relic that could tip the balance of power. Scarlett is tough and fiercely independent. While her older sister takes comfort in religion, the protagonist finds solace in her father's old copy of One Thousand and One Nights. Unfortunately, the novel suffers from its heavy hard-boiled lingo which, in its modern setting, becomes a distraction from the characterization. Despite this, the supernatural mystery is engaging and the Muslim American teenage sleuth will be a welcome addition to YA shelves.
VERDICT A fun, if flawed, whodunit with a diverse protagonist who is an heir apparent to Veronica Mars.

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