Sunday, July 19, 2015

Scarlett Noir

Okay, I said I'd be back and blogging more, and it's been a couple of weeks, but in my defense I was on vacation for one of them.  Which always seems like a good time to blog, but then never is.

But it does mean that I have a backlog of things to talk about (including a question about Game of Thrones in the comments from the last post that is now going to be its own post very shortly), so I'm going to roll right into one of the backlog, with the goal of mixing in these older reviews with some in-progress discussions, because I appear to finally be back on the wagon.

Today, let's talk about the awesome book that got me back into reading after about two months away from it entirely: Scarlett Undercover, by Jennifer Latham.  I got it from Netgalley, and thank heaven, because it was exactly what I needed, at just the right time.  Teenaged private detective with a rough recent past (think Veronica Mars) takes a case that leads to secrets the people around her have been keeping about her father's murder, and her own heritage.

Scarlett, first of all, is amazing.  She's 17, but she graduated high school early and is taking time off before college.  Her parents are dead--her father murdered years ago, her mother lost to cancer more recently--and she lives with her older sister, who is loving and wonderful and also very busy in medical school.

Scarlett is a private investigator, and when a tween girl comes to her saying she's worried about what her brother's involved in because he's changed so much, Scarlett takes the case.  This is the point where my summary mostly stops, because here the plot starts rolling along.

This is the most authentically noir teenage story I've seen since Brick--maybe moreso.  Because Brick was full of artistry, and was very self-conscious in its use of the language and styles and characters of noir, but Scarlett is just naturally a cool, on-top-of-things problem solver.  She comes prepared, she thinks fast, and she knows what she wants.  So when the job ends up tying into her father's murder, including maybe a cult and maybe even potentially magical artifacts (though Scarlett has no use for the notion of magic; she lives in the real world, thank you very much), she is ready for things.  She's got a plan, a friend in the police department, and a back door out of every building on the block. 

So when there are car chases, people trailing her, thefts, and threats, she's scared all right--because she's smart enough to know she should be--but she's read, and she's not going to back down without a fight.

So yes, I loved this book.  The plot zipped right along, and the character was a complete no-nonsense, awesome girl (who was also Muslim, by the way, and not just incidentally, but in a way that is cultural and familial and thoughtful and modern all at the same time).  She's got friends and attitude and I wanted to follow her around.  And if the plot was a little convoluted and hinged on some serious coincidences--which, oh yes, it did--I didn't mind so much, because it was nothing Sam Spade hadn't seen before, and I was willing to go anywhere with Scarlett.

There was a little romance, but no more than they needed to be (another requirement for pulling me out of a book rut).  Similarly, a good amount of action, but never to the point where I got bored with it (which I do, sometimes). 

I want to hug Scarlett.  I want to see what she does next.  I want to thank her for bringing me back to my old obsessively reading self.  And I really, really want to see what she does next.

1 comment:

Lianna Williamson said...

This sounds fantastic! Going on my TBR list.