I love Noir mysteries, and I’m a big fan of teen Noir like Veronica Mars and Brick, but so far I haven’t found much in the way of Noir mystery in the realm of Young Adult fiction. There are plenty of novels with Noirish elements, but I’ve long been searching for a story set in a gritty urban environment with a teen character acting as detective in a murder investigation.
And now I’ve finally found it!
Today I have a fabulous YA teen Noir recommendation for you–a book praised by Kirkus in a starred review as “dead on” and “flawless fun.” And the best news? This book is 1) set in Oklahoma City, and 2) authored by an Oklahoman whose previous book was a National Book Award finalist (that has since been adapted into a film due to release in August). How exciting!
Tim Tharp’s latest novel, Mojo, is the story of Daryl, a teen blessed with smarts, a great sense of humor, and loyal friends, but who nevertheless is intent on improving his social status by acquiring a bit more “mojo.” After his discovery of a classmate’s dead body brings him a fleeting fame that soon turns sour, Dylan directs his attention to a more noble investigation–finding a beautiful rich girl who has gone missing. This requires interviewing the girl’s wealthy classmates from Hollister, an exclusive private school on the north side of town. To Dylan’s delight, these teens are not at all stuck up; rather, they seem pleased by his investigative efforts. Not only do they freely offer him information, but they also allow him access to their social scene. Dylan’s friend Audrey is skeptical, but Dylan can’t help enjoying this new sense of inclusion and coolness.
Is it all too good to be true?
Like all good Noir stories, Mojo twists and turns, taking the reader to unexpected places. This cleverly plotted mystery is told in an authentic and accessible way that will appeal to readers of all ages, including reluctant readers. Learn more about Mojo and Tim Tharp’s other novels at his webpage: timtharp.wordpress.com.