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Here’s another murder mystery for you. This one is young adult, from the point of view of the secondary victim, the one who didn’t die. Murder mystery is not a genre I generally seek out because I always assumed it was formulaic. Maybe some are, but the ones I’ve read lately aren’t. The quality of the writing and plotting keeps surprising me. Plus the chills!

My recent horror reads were a bust and that’s okay for now. I’m getting my thrills on with these mysteries – First In the Woods, then Secret History and recently Far From You by Tess Sharpe, also an impressive debut. They’re not BOO! scary. Instead they shake you up and get under your skin with just a few lingering moments of terror.

This is a good, quick read for this time of year. It’s more emotional than the other two because it revolves around a love story, a sweet, tragic love story covered in blood.

Far From YouSophie is 17 and finally getting out of rehab, which is good for her and bad for the person who set her up. She was clean and someone framed her to make her best friend’s murder look like a drug deal gone bad. It reeks, but the police have already moved on.

This is not going to be easy for Sophie. She’s no Veronica Mars plus she’s operating with a broken heart and body. A horrible car accident when she was younger left her limpy with a bad back and chronic pain, hence the former addiction to painkillers. She doesn’t have any magic powers, resources or convenient clues. Buuuuut here’s the twist.  It’s the obsessive psychology of an addict that’s a gift in this case. That Sophie is a liar also works to her advantage as it enables her to recognize fellow liars, maybe even uncover a murderer.

We go back to Soph at 14 lying in a hospital bed, her bones screwed together and body covered in what will soon be scars. Mina, her best friend, was always there to hold her hand, always running ahead, hiding in Soph. Mina was desperate to bury what they really were.

Chapters hop back and forth in time from Soph and Mina trying to resist what they feel for each other, giving their bodies to boys instead, to Soph drowning in painkillers then fighting to stay clean, to Soph on an angry rampage that doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere. Yet it doesn’t feel fragmented because the pieces add up to tell a clear story. Soph and Mina had love and then someone with a gun destroyed it.

The constant jumping around in time didn’t work for me because it killed the momentum. The author pulls at heart strings more than she builds suspense so the love element was stronger than the mystery, that part was just okay. I found it hard to believe police would be as dense as they are here and parents so oblivious, but Sharpe kept them mostly on the periphery so the unbelievable bits weren’t too annoying.

Overall, I liked this book primarily because Soph and Mina’s relationship is so powerful. It’s the rush of first love, shadowed by the anxiety of what would happen if people found out. Then you have the tension of the fearless falling for the fearful – one is bi and not scared who knows it while the other is gay and terrified. You have hope for them even though you know from page one it doesn’t end well.