By Stephanie Tromly
Available now from Kathy Dawson Books (Penguin Random House)
TROUBLE IS A FRIEND OF MINE is an incredibly fitting title. When Zoe Webster's parents divorce and she moves to a new town and school, her first new friend is the enigmatic Digby. Digby gets her into all sorts of trouble, including the sort that convinces her to run back into an exploding building (and that ends up on her permanent record).
TROUBLE IS A FRIEND OF MINE is a very over-the-top book. The personalities are large, the plot is fast paced, and the interweaving tales of sordid crime are told as a slapstick comedy. It was perfect reading for waiting to get on a plane. It was quick and funny and didn't take itself seriously, but the subject matter still got under my skin.
It helped that I really liked the characters. Zoe is struggling to define who she is, especially now that she's living farther from her overbearing father and starting to realize that her spacey mother maybe isn't so oblivious. (Hint to most teenagers: your parents probably are less oblivious than you think.) Digby is the sort of person who only exists in books, but he works here. I like how as the truth is uncovered, more and more of his actions make sense. I also liked his former/current best friend Henry, who gets wrapped up into helping them and getting into trouble with them. He makes for a nice contrast with Digby as the second male lead. I thought the supporting cast worked well too, including the mean girl who goes along for the ride during the climax.
Zoe and Digby's search for a missing girl throws them into the path of a pervert, local (and not-so-local) drug dealers, rogue cops, a cult, and a flat-out bully. It also livens up their night at the school dance quite a bit. Pretty much all the trouble the teens get into is preposterous, but the characterization and neat plotting keep TROUBLE IS A FRIEND OF MINE clicking along.
I hope that Stephanie Tromly plans to write more of these three characters, although she does leave them in a good place. Even if she doesn't, I'm sure her next book will also be a riot.