What an utterly delightful murder mystery! While this description may seem a bit contradictory, I can’t think of any way to better describe Buzz Kill, as Beth Fantaskey strikes a fantastic balance between all the hilarity and awkwardness of teenagerdom and the gravity and danger of a murder mystery.
Seventeen-year-old Millie is getting her Nancy Drew on. After all she IS a reporter for the Honeywell High Gazette, and she IS the one who (literally) stumbled into the very much dead, and not very-much-liked Coach Killdare in a storage room of the football stadium. Dibs… and all. And when her dad becomes a suspect, and when the detective assigned to the case proves to be incompetent and harboring a petty grudge, she determines to find out what really happened to Hollerin’ Hank Killdare. Upstaging fellow-reporter (and arch-nemisis) Viv and winning the Pacemaker out from under her perfect little nose while Millie does it would be icing on the cake.
All-American quarterback Chase Albright seems to be a perfect (and gorgeous) ally, but his past is shrouded in mystery as well. But should she trust him? Everyone seems to have a motive. Can she really trust anyone?
WWND? (What Would Nancy Do?)
This book excels in so many areas for me, the romance, the characters, the mystery, the wit and humor, the suspense, but the keystone to all this is Millie. Her character is just wonderful. She’s smart, though doesn’t apply herself (except to subjects she deems important), she loves ironic t-shirts, has a voracious appetite for junk food (and really loves pie), and believes the public education system is, in her words: “a diabolical plot to shackle young minds.” She’s witty, sarcastic, resourceful, persuasive, blunt, and aggressive, but she’s also a girl who underneath the tough exterior is vulnerable and still grieving the death of her mother. It’s hard to find words to adequately describe Millie, but in a sea of heroines that can tend to be a bit similar, she stands out.
Mystery. As for the rest of it, the mystery is well-paced, well-structured and intriguing. I love all the comparisons and contrasts with Nancy Drew. (If you don’t know who that is, well then, get thee to a library. Or, at least Wikipedia.). I just love how Buzz Kill feels light and teenagery and fun, but yet it’s also this very dark, serious, dangerous murder investigation that’s going on as well. Fantaskey does excellent job marrying these two very different tones into something cohesive, as neither one diminishes the other.
Characters. Everyone Millie meets in the course of her life and investigation — friends, foes, suspects, nervous principals, movie girlfriends, smelly dogs, not to mention personal librarians — are all so engaging and colorful. It’s a small town. So be ye warned: There be quirkiness ahead.
Romance. It’s good stuff. Really good stuff. And I’ll just leave it at that. Chase and his secrets should be yours to discover.
Overall, I stand by my previous description… Buzz Kill is an utterly delightful murder mystery.