The Girl is Murder - Kathryn Miller Haines Set in 1942, in the grip of World War II, the story follows Iris Anderson, a fifteen-year-old girl with a mind for sleuthing. Following her mother’s tragic suicide, Iris is uprooted from her private school and her cushy apartment on the Upper East Side of New York, landing in a public school and living on the wrong end of town. Her father is a private detective, so money depends on his success rate, and due to losing his leg in the war, he isn’t quite as good at doing legwork as he used to be. Iris decides to step in, despite her father’s protests, because she knows they need the money. Once she realizes that his latest case involves a boy she met on the first day of school, she dives in headfirst, putting herself undercover in search for answers.

I really liked the character of Iris. Other reviewers have compared her to Veronica Mars, and I can kind of see that, if Veronica lived in the 1940s and lacked her trademark witty humor and confidence. Also, Veronica and her father are practically best friends while Iris doesn’t know where she stands with hers. He was out of her life for five years, and now he’s the only parent she has. She has no idea how to relate to him. I really liked that the reader gets to see Iris as more than just a teenaged detective, she’s also a girl who has problems like those in the age group she was created for. She has trouble making friends and fitting in, she struggles with learning the true colors of people she was once friends with, and discovers the darker side of the world around her. The reader discovers these changes as Iris does, and experiences typical teenage things through her, such as drinking for the first time or getting caught sneaking out. Iris is a great character, a combination of Nancy Drew and Veronica Mars, with a well-rounded personality all her own.

The secondary characters were fun too. While the adults tended to fade into the background, Iris’s friends were fairly colorful. I love Suze – she is such a great friend to Iris and incredibly supportive when Iris is going through a rough time. It was very hard for me as a reader to know that at some point Suze was going to find out that Iris wasn’t being entirely truthful with her. I really didn’t want their friendship to flat line, because everyone deserves a friend like Suze. Pearl comes off as a little desperate for friendship in the beginning, but she also becomes a good friend to Iris, aiding her in her investigation. Iris’s old friend, Grace, is irritating. Her fakeness just oozes from the pages. I don’t blame Iris at all for being unsure if she can trust Grace, I didn’t trust the troublesome little snob.

The mystery itself was surprisingly intriguing. The boy that disappears is someone the reader barely gets a glimpse of before he’s gone. We know he’s a troublemaker and a thief, but Iris can’t help but believe he has a good heart, and honestly, I couldn’t either. The revelation of what happened to him is rather anti-climactic, but there is a slight twist afterward. We also get answers to more than is expected, such as why he broke into the lockers at school, something I’d completely forgotten about by the end of the story.

I really liked this novel and look forward to reading the sequel. I think Iris is a great character for young readers, and I hope to see many books starring her in the future.