Scarlett’s an orphan. Her father was murdered. Her mother died of cancer. Her sister’s caught up in medical school. But don’t waste time feeling sorry for her; Scarlett’s anything but pitiable. She’s smart – graduated high school at 16. She’s enterprising – started her own detective agency. She’s tough – a wise-ass and martial artist who carries an old police baton into dangerous neighborhoods. She’s a typical teen – not sure if she wants to practice her parent’s religion, distracted by a certain boy, determined to avoid anything that will curtail her freedom.
I love a mystery, and if it comes with a smart-ass detective, even better. Scarlett really won me over, as did the nod to hard-boiled detective stories of the past. Scarlett’s character is compelling. She’s tough but she’s compassionate. She wants to save the world and kiss a boy, but most of all: she wants to solve her father’s murder.
I love that Scarlett is Muslim. She and her sister each make their own decisions about faith and traditions. Will they pray every day? Will they pray 5 times every day? Will they wear a hajib? There’s more tradition than religion here, and though it felt reasonable to me, I don’t know if it’s a realistic portrayal of Muslim life. I hope it is. It certainly felt good to read story about a Muslim teen.
Scarlett Undercover involves the murder of Scarlett’s father and the suicide of a teen, so it may not be for all readers. I expect most readers who like a good detective/adventure story will like this book. There is a culty supernatural element thrown in that may not appeal some readers. I hope there will be more Scarlett books.
I read Scarlett Undercover as an electronic ARC courtesy of NetGalley and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.