Every breath by Ellie Marney

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Allen and Unwin, 2013. ISBN 9781743316429
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. Rachel Watts hates her life in the city, where her family has moved from their country property because of financial problems. She doesn't want to settle down and her only friend is James Mycroft, the troubled teenager who lives close by. He is a genius with a talent for forensic science, and when a homeless man is murdered, the two become embroiled in a dangerous hunt for the killer.
This is a mystery that will thrill readers as they follow the clues and encounter some dangerous and unusual characters on the way. There is also a thrilling episode in the zoo that won't be easily forgotten. Marney does an excellent job of keeping up the suspense, laying clues for the final exposure but keeping the reader in the dark for the journey. The forensic science is fascinating and Mycroft, whose name is a nod to Sherlock Holmes' brother, is a brilliant detective. Paired with Rachel's practical nature and smart insights, the two make a great job of working out the mystery.
The character development also adds depth to the story, Mycroft is a damaged boy, whose parents have died in mysterious circumstances and who lives with an aloof aunt. He doesn't fit in well at school and plays outrageous pranks but is determined to find his friend's killer. Rachel is grieving for the life that she had in the country and hates the city and the long hours that all the members of her family have to put to keep going financially. In addition to her school work and part time job, she is in charge of the cooking and housework for her family. Friendship between the two is more important than the growing romance and the mystery is all important. Some humour lightens the tough moments and there are caring and interesting secondary characters.
A tense thriller, with a mystery that will tantalise, this is sure to gain a following and readers will have another book with Rachel and James to look forward to in the future.
Pat Pledger