By Sarah Strohmeyer
Available now from Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins)
Read my review of Smart Girls Get What They Want
Lily Graves is a mortician's daughter, and she lives up to potential stereotypes with her love of fancy black dresses. She's also tutoring a local football star, Matt, for instance. Then, when she's cleaning up in the cemetery (her mom makes her volunteer), Matt's girlfriend Erin swings by and attacks Lily for breaking them up. By the end of the day, Erin is dead. It's up to Lily to prove that she and Matt had nothing to do with it.
THE SECRETS OF LILY GRAVES is Sarah Stohmeyer's first foray into mystery, and she does a good job of it. There is a dark tone to this book, which only increases as Erin's secrets come out. There are many more potential suspects than there seems to be at first, and I know I found the resolution surprising. I guessed a little of it, and it made sense, but I still didn't see it coming. Nor does Lily, who gets most of her clues through the policeman her mother is dating.
The romantic plotline, between Lily and Matt, wasn't quite as good as the mystery for me. It was very nice that Lily trusted Matt, but I still couldn't believe she would go off with him alone so often while he was suspected of murder. (Especially after he proves to be somewhat less than honest. And even if she does take a scalpel with her.) I did appreciate that, as they both said, nothing happened before Erin's death. I'm not big on cheating plotlines.
I also appreciated that Stohmeyer didn't forgo her roots entirely. THE SECRETS OF LILY GRAVES is frequently funny. There's also lots of delicious irony from the contrast of Erin's post-death sainthood and the truths that Lily uncovers. This book might be dark, but it's not depressing.
So throw THE SECRETS OF LILY GRAVES into your bag this summer, to add a little shade to your beach reading.