Steph Linder dreams of being an Atlanta policewoman when she graduates high school in 1980’s Georgia. After her estranged mother is killed in Woody Pines, Steph is forced to stay with the grandmother and uncle she blames for her parent’s divorce in order to secretly investigate the murder. In the small, insulated town, Steph encounters a hunky teenager with intimate ties to her mother, three disreputable men who worked with her at a seedy bar, and a friendly librarian with several motives to be the number one suspect.
With only six days to catch the killer before going back to Atlanta to finish her senior year, Steph deals with a lecherous uncle, residents who view her as an unwelcome stranger, and long distance problems with her boyfriend and two BFF’s. Will she find the killer, or fall victim to the same fate as her mother?
The Little Girl You Kiss Goodnight is a teen-noir crime mystery that features a plucky, but flawed heroine, a broken family unit that bands together after eight long years, and a tension-filled denouement that will stay with you long after you finish the novel.
John Tucker’s organization of the story is intricate. His characters are believable and consistent, not cliché. There is enough complexity in the plot to keep us guessing and turning the pages. The climactic scene is brilliantly laid out. Throughout the book, I found it hard to put down, a near compulsion to keep reading. If that doesn’t rate 5 stars, I don’t what does.
While this is a YA book, it leans toward the older end of this market. This is a no holds barred murder mystery, with all the grown up violence to go with it. There are also frequent references to sex, so don’t get it for your middle-schooler. Late high-school, college and grownups will love it.