The Amateurs is the first in a new series of Young Adult mysteries featuring college and high school friends who collaborate to solve a cold case. There’s a cold case forum on the internet and Maddy, Seneca, and Brett are all participants. When Aerin, the sister of a murdered girl posts to the forum asking for help, Seneca jumps at the chance.

She has been fascinated by the murder of Helene, Aerin’s sister, because she was murdered around the same times as Seneca’s mother. Perhaps she needed to focus on Helene’s murder so she can deflect her own pain. Whatever the reason, she knows everything there is to know.

Maddox lives in the same town and knew Helene and Aerin, so he has a personal interest. Brett is a member of the group who has an uncanny insight that helped solve many cases in the past. As an online friend, he volunteers to help and, it turns out, also lost family to an unsolved murder.

3-stars

The mystery is fair and satisfyingly complex. The kids are not completely stupid and do smart things like call the police when they think they have figured it out. Of course, they should call the police when they are threatened, but don’t because absurdly they are not sure they are really being threatened. The writing is only competent, far too much telling and explanation of people’s thought processes. There’s also a lot of juvenile romance that is juvenile not because of their age, but because of the one dimensionality of it all.

I am probably going to end up reading the next in this series because it has a cliffhanger and I am a sucker, but it would not be a good use of my time.

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