This is a mystery/thriller with a little bit of romance. The setting is a small town during the Vietnam era. Characters are Jasper Jones who is a loner, weird teen with alcoholic father who uses his deceased mother's last name and is often blamed for things not done by him, Charlie who may be Jasper's friend and is the studious son of a school teacher and a mother who wishes she were somewhere else and does not really care for Charlie, Jack Lionel who is a scary monster type that all kids avoid except to challenge each other to sneak peaches off his tree without being caught, Eliza Wishart who is Charlie's love interest and sister of a missing girl, Jeffrey Lu who is Vietnamese and whose family has many friends and enemies in town, he is Charlie's best friend.
School is ending for the summer and Charlie is looking forward at least to escape torture from the school bully and perhaps see a little more of Eliza. Jasper appears under his open window late at night desperately in need of help. As it turns out the help needed is to dispose of the dead body of Laura Wishart which is hanging in Jasper's secret home and help discover her murderer.
Summer becomes one of sneaking around, discovering unexpected things, hanging with Eliza and Jeffrey and finally in the last few pages seeing the unravelling of many closely held town secrets which mostly will never be revealed to the town's people in general. The ending is great, if only everything hadn't happened at once. It seems like more hints of things to come would have helped this story's pace some. It kind of dragged with not much important going on and not much discovered. I'm thinking kids who liked 13 Little Blue Envelopes may appreciate this. Hope that doesn't give too much away. JDW 11/9