i am a fan of John R. Petrie as a human person, so when he asked me to read his first book, The Quarterback’s Crush, OF COURSE i did, despite it being a YA m/m romance (so, probably more accurately b/b romance?) and me being pretty consistently romance-averse regardless of the genital combos of the characters. it didn’t turn me into a fan of romance, but i found it goofily charming and sweet, bringing a little ‘awww’ to my dried-corncob of a heart.
but now, after reading his second book, i am a fan of John R. Petrie as an author. because this one, although it does contain romantic elements, is a genuinely well-constructed mystery novel, which manages to squeeze MORE THAN ONE mystery into < 200 pages without feeling rushed.
it’s still YA, so it’s not explicit in its violence or romance elements, and there’s a real wholesomeness to it, particularly in the relationship between the protagonist timothy (NOT ‘timmy’ or ‘tim,’ tyvm) and his parents. they are super-supportive of his being gay, which is wonderful to read, and timothy doesn’t have a sullen-teen bone in his body, so their frankness with him and his willingness to spend time with them and share his thoughts and feels is very sweet and loving and could come across as unrealistic, but the fact that his mom is cool enough to crack grindr jokes saves it from hallmark channel feel-gooderie. it feels…nice.
Timothy wanted to be annoyed at what his brain thought of as his overprotective father, but his heart was grateful for a dad who watched over him so closely.
but it ain’t all pleasantville—teenagers in smalltown south carolina aren’t all as accepting as timothy’s parents, and as both the openly gay new boy and the son of the sheriff, he’s had to stand up for himself against some local bullies to earn his classmates’ respect.
there’s also something else, something more shady n’ sinister marring the idyllic smalltown facade which local broody chain-smoking teenhunk wyatt courtland discovers when, while broodily-hunkily working a construction gig, he finds a box hidden in the building’s wall whose contents relate to his friend bobby—a boy who’d gone missing four years earlier. although they aren’t buddies, wyatt brings the box to timothy, asking for his help in looking into the matter—to find bobby or at least find out what happened to him. timothy, who wants to work in law enforcement despite his father’s attempts to dissuade him, agrees to investigate—hoping to prove to his dad that he’s got what it takes. what the boys uncover brings them closer to the truth about bobby and several other missing teens, and also—you guessed it—closer to each other. which would be awwww, but because of all the danger, it’s also aaaahhhhhh!!!
it’s a solid YA romantic suspense, and a first-in-series title, so i am very much looking forward to reading more about these two teensleuths.