Two years ago David Crandall’s mother was murdered and no one had been arrested. His father, the headmaster of the private school that David attends, turns out to be the prime suspect, but there’s no hard evidence. That is, of course, until David witnesses his father burying something in the middle of the night that just happens to look like a rifle…
In the meantime, David doesn’t feel he has much to live for. In fact, he feels like an appendix, relatively useless (his words). The only thing he has to look forward to is shooting and working up to the prestigious honor of First Shot during graduation. Suddenly, though, he’s got competition in new student Misty Clearly. The two become friends as she pushes him to become a better shooter and he pulls her into the mystery of his mother’s death. Certain things just don’t add up. At his mother’s death she had in her possession a painting and a key. When David talks to the people who found his mother (an old childhood friend) he learns about a secret in the tunnels under the school, but the safe that the key belongs to was empty. Things start to fall into place, though, when he learns his mother hid important clues behind her painting. Soon the real murderer wants those papers and doesn’t mind sacrificing David in efforts to obtain them.
This book turned out to be really thrilling. Once the investigation of his mother’s murder got underway, it was a roller coaster ride of suspense and then a calm, only to be hit again with more action. The end, though, left me a little disappointed. I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the wrap up of his mother’s investigation. The killer got what he deserved in a great tie in with David’s passion for shooting (David didn’t kill the person so that didn’t give anything away), but how the police concluded his guilt remained unexplained seeing as the evidence was destroyed. That brings up another point – two words: Zerox Machine! If a crucial piece of evidence is a piece of paper, always make copies! You don’t need to tell the bad man that you have copies, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Paper is very easily destroyed so you need to cover all bases. But really, that was my only pet peeve about the book. Just the ending, I didn’t get it. How was the innocent man freed? Who was the witness, what evidence did he provide?? Otherwise, David is a likable character with an enjoyable personality and I loved the flow of the suspense. Also, I like how his passion with shooting, and some of the techno-lingo fit into it all. During the competition for the First Shot and the explanation of some shooting terms, my eyes at first glazed over, but when I got to the end, I was like, "Dude, it fits! Nicely done!"
Great mystery! I’d been disappointed in other young adult mysteries but this one holds up.