This starts out as a stunningly impressive display of teenage emotion, bringing together three kids — Crisp, the biracial overachiever; Glynnie, the privileged white wild child, and JJ, the street kid doing whatever it takes to survive — on a night of reckless camaraderie that turns into a really bad time when adult criminals get involved. The cops looking, at first separately, into the disappearances of Crisp and Glynnie, have their own compelling stories, but for some reason the book gets bogged down about two thirds of the way through, in what was up till then a taut thriller of intertwining narratives. I’m not sure if it has more to do with the muddle of Crisp’s dad knowing Dante, or with the absolute ludicrousness of the up-till-then sympathetic Detective Lex Cole freaking out about his boyfriend’s whereabouts, but it feels like the story spins out of control, at least tone-wise. It’s a little bit like the disorienting feeling of having to go back to one’s responsible daily life after a night-long bender, where you kind of hate everyone and just want the day to be over with so you can finally get some sleep. Somewhat fitting given the events of the book, but not the most pleasant reading experience.
I was actually pretty surprised to dislike Lex after his awesome role in the first book, A Map Of The Dark. Some jealousy is understandable, but his reaction at the end was just petty. I’m hoping the next book features Det Saki Findlay and dives into how her unusual mind works. And I’m really, really glad that the book ends the way it does, because it would have absolutely broken my heart if any of those kids had been damaged beyond repair. Karen Ellis is really good at getting you to care about the kids who are the main focus of this series, and I can’t wait to read more of her stuff.