The first Keaton School mystery
By Margaux Froley
Available now from Soho Teen (Soho Press)
Jason Reed Hutchins just committed suicide. He was popular, rich, intelligent, handsome, and his friends can barely believe that he took his own life. Devon Mackintosh didn't run in the same circles as Hutch, but she knew him well due to one special, emotionally intimate night back when they were both freshmen.
Now, Devon is a Peer Counselor and the one assigned to support Hutch's closest friends in their time of grief. Their sessions reveal aspects of Hutch Devon never suspected, but they also make her suspicious about his untimely death. The more she discovers, the more she's convinced that someone murdered Hutch. But everyone is a suspect and many know about Devon's obsession.
I liked that the mystery within ESCAPE THEORY is self contained, but that there are hints of a larger mystery at work, one that has to do with the history of both Keaton school and Hutch's family. I love the development of the school. It has a drug problem, like most rich kid schools, and there are major privacy issues as the faculty try to get Devon to reveal what was shared during her supposedly confidential sessions.
ESCAPE THEORY definitely tugged on my heartstrings at times. It goes back and forth between the past and present. In the present, the mystery unfolds and in the past it's revealed just what happened between Hutch and Devon. It's painful to learn more about what an awkward-but-charming kid he was and know that he dies young. But it helps illuminate Devon's motivation and why she can't just dismiss her concerns. I did like that Devon wasn't solely motivated by justice for Hutch. She really does try to help her peers even though she hasn't had much training.
ESCAPE THEORY is an absorbing, character-driven mystery. I highly recommend it to fans of Lisa and Laura Roecker's Liar Society mysteries. I enjoyed Margaux Froley's debut and look forward to subsequent Keaton School mysteries.