In this hard-boiled teen mystery, 16-year-old Seth must solve the murder of his loving but wild-hearted mother. In a rough Tacoma neighborhood, Seth and his mother live paycheck to paycheck; his mother works nights as a cleaner, while Seth goes to school, works odd jobs, and spars at the boxing gym. When she is found dead in her car, poisoned, the police think the murderer is Miss Irene, the owner of the Shotgun Shack, where Seth works as a line cook. However, Seth can't believe their long-time family friend is to blame. As Seth looks for the real killer, he falls for a girl from the privileged part of town, which has violent repercussions for them both. This is a solid noir mystery, with classic clues, red herrings, and a big reveal at the end. The Tacoma setting is infused with plenty of local color, and Seth is pragmatic and loyal to his neighborhood family. Readers looking for an old-school, straight-up mystery will enjoy this. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
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