The June Boys

Thomas Nelson. Mar. 2020. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780785221906.
Gr 8 Up–The hunt for a serial kidnapper in Tennessee intensifies when one captive is discovered dead. For almost 10 years, the Gemini Thief periodically abducts three boys in June and keeps them captive but unharmed for a full year. Thea Delacroix suspects, though, that there was a fourth abductee in the latest cycle of June Boys—her cousin Aulus, who mysteriously disappeared around the same time. Thea, along with her boyfriend Nick and friends Tank and Gladys, have spent the last year combing through evidence in their quest to find her cousin and identify the kidnapper. When Aulus’s keychain is found on the recently discovered June Boy’s body, Thea begins to suspect that the kidnapper may be closer to home. Mystery enthusiasts will enjoy this intricately plotted small-town thriller. The gradually intensifying narrative will leave readers guessing about the Gemini Thief’s identity. Repeated use of red herrings will give some readers whiplash as they follow Thea’s investigation into her father’s background in an attempt to identify the true kidnapper. Interspersed amidst her search are candid letters written in captivity by Aulus that add important context and increase emotional stakes. Readers pulled in by the overall story line will be willing to overlook pacing issues and inconsistent character development.
VERDICT Hand this intense read to teens who enjoy mystery thrillers.

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