Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: November 1, 2016
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: The Heiresses
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "As soon as Seneca Frazier sees the post on the Case Not Closed website about Helena Kelly, she’s hooked. Helena’s high-profile disappearance five years earlier is the one that originally got Seneca addicted to true crime. It’s the reason she’s a member of the site in the first place. So when Maddy Wright, her best friend from the CNC site, invites Seneca to spend spring break in Connecticut looking into the cold case, she immediately packs her bag. But the moment she steps off the train in trendy, glamorous Dexby, things begin to go wrong. Maddy is nothing like she expected, and Helena’s sister, Aerin Kelly, seems completely hostile and totally uninterested in helping with their murder investigation. But when Brett, another super user from the site, joins Seneca and Maddy in Dexby, Aerin starts to come around. The police must have missed something, and someone in Dexby definitely has information they’ve been keeping quiet. As Seneca, Brett, Maddy, and Aerin begin to unravel dark secrets and shocking betrayals about the people closest to them, they seem to be on the murderer’s trail at last. But somewhere nearby the killer is watching . . . ready to do whatever it takes to make sure the truth stays buried."
Aerin's older sister, Helena, disappeared five years ago and no one can figure who was responsible. Her body was found years later, but the authorities still haven't cracked the case. Now Aerin is sixteen years old and obviously still thinks about her sister and her untimely death. She finds a website that discusses cold murder cases and amateur detectives try to figure out if there are any new leads. Aerin sends out a desperate message for help and in turn, Seneca, a college student, is interested in this case, so much so that she travels to Connecticut, the location of the crime, to see if she can help. While there she meets, Maddox and Brett, two other amateur sleuths whom are also interested in the case. Each character is hiding something and slowly the truth is revealed in The Amateurs.
I can't say I was overly invested in any particular character, but I was intrigued by the unsolved murder mystery. Shepard, of Pretty Little Liars fame, does weave an engaging mystery that her fans will enjoy. There's romance, suspense, red herrings, and of course, the looming murder mystery that kept me flipping the pages.
One thing that I didn't necessarily enjoy were the love triangles in The Amateurs. I could have definitely done without that aspect of the novel.
Since this is Shepard, you know that Helena's got some skeletons in her closet. She is hiding some of her own secrets that the amateurs slowly unveil as they learn more about the case. Plus, each character has their own reasons for getting involved in the murder mystery, so that's another aspect of the novel that is slowly revealed in The Amateurs.
While I had to suspend my disbelief a few times, I still enjoyed where the story was going. I think fans of Shepard's former series, Pretty Little Liars, will especially appreciate this start to a twisty new series, especially after they read the cliffhanger at the end of this novel!