Wander in the Dark

Delacorte. Jan. 2024. 400p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780593651858.
Gr 10 Up–This dual-narrative thriller opens at the 16th birthday party of Marcel Trudeau at his upscale home in New Orleans. Marcel is pleased to see his half-brother Amir in attendance, though he only came because of a flirtatious text from the popular Chloe Danvers. Marcel wants to be closer with Amir, but their family history has left the relationship strained. Amir leaves the party with Chloe, so when she is murdered later that night, the police target him as their prime suspect. Placed under a strict curfew, Amir relies on his half-brother to search for the true killer while anxiously awaiting the grand jury hearing. Through confrontation and luck, Marcel discovers that Chloe had details about a racist Instagram page run by several students at their school and proof of an affair between two prominent community members. Based on these findings, Marcel pursues a hunch to get evidence and a confession from the killer, though the reveal is forced and unsatisfying. Most of the main cast is Black, and the book comments frequently on systemic racism and the unfairness of the justice system. The story is weakened by the alternating chapters: Amir is mostly a bystander in the text, as it is Marcel who really knew Chloe and who drives the plot discoveries. There are some references to drugs and alcohol, but the language, particularly in the texts and Instagram pages, is often coarse.
VERDICT Not recommended.

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