We Were Kings

Thomas Nelson. Feb. 2022. 400p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780785238485.
Gr 9 Up–Nyla Wagner’s mother has spent 20 years arguing the innocence of Frankie Quick, who was convicted of murdering Cora King when the girls were teenagers. Now the passage of a new law gives Frankie only 30 days before she will be executed, which prompts reporters to show up at Nyla’s door and expose her mother as Cora King’s sister. Confused and determined to find answers, Nyla embarks on her own investigation of the murder and her tangled family web. As she’s done in previous novels, Stevens explores small-town atmosphere and politics very well. The mystery and suspense build consistently as Nyla searches for answers through her affluent family’s secrets and lies. While there are some reveals that seem a bit obvious, others are clever and twisty enough to pick up the slack. Nyla is a likable and relatable protagonist, as is her relationship to Sam Stack, the son of Cora King’s former boyfriend. Easily consumable with a fast-paced plot, this is a quick and enticing read for fans of murder mysteries and family dramas. Characters’ race and ethnicity weren’t stated.
VERDICT Stevens delivers a cunning tale that will appeal to existing fans and could attract some new readers. A solid addition to any YA collection.

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