Kisses and Lies
Lauren Henderson

Random House Childrens books
January 10, 2009
Hardcover/320 pages
ISBN: 0-385734891
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". . . mystery and coming of age in modern day England."

Kisses and Lies: Murder, mystery and coming of age in modern day England.

Scarlett Wakefield now knows she didn’t kill Dan McAndrew when she kissed him. What she doesn’t know is who did.

It’s beginning to look more and more like someone deliberately put peanut oil in the crisps at the party to which Scarlett was invited by Dan’s express wish. Scarlett is determined to find out who took Dan’s Epi-Pen and spiked the crisps. She doesn’t think she’ll be able to get over his death unless she solves the crime.

Taylor McGovern, Scarlett’s only friend, boards at the Wakefield Hall Collegiate. Taylor wants to be a private investigator. She agrees to help Scarlett no matter what it takes or where it leads. But neither Taylor nor Scarlett realize just how far the murderer is willing to go or how much it will cost when it’s all over.

Kisses and Lies is the sequel to Kiss Me Kill Me, but author Lauren Henderson is generous with the background information to get the reader up to speed. The information is such an integral part of the story that it never intrudes or slows the pace. Henderson knows her subject, detailing upper class boarding schools, fashion, and teenage trials and tribulations with an attention to detail, demonstrating a keen eye for detail that hints at personal knowledge.

Scarlett morphs from scattered and scared victim into a strong and capable young woman. She uses all of the skills and smarts at her disposal as she follows the trail of clues that leads her to the murderer. She is observant and quick thinking, a very real, fascinating and tenacious character.

Although Taylor is an integral part of the story, she is less well-realized. This may be due in part to Henderson’s use of first person, but since all of the other characters seem more like detailed sketches, their lack of presence may be intentional, a comment on the egocentricity of being a teenager. Scarlett notices what everyone wears, from clothes and shoes to jewelry and accessories, but she falls short of knowing much beyond superficialities of the other characters’ personalities. However, Kisses and Lies does not lack pace or appeal. The ending is well worth the ride.


Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell