Cooper Bartholomew is dead by Rebecca James
Allen & Unwin 2014. ISBN 9781743319239
(Age: 15+) Nineteen-year-old Libby has just lost her new boyfriend, Cooper, to an apparent suicide. In a series of flashbacks we learn of their romance, which began after meeting again post-high school. Libby slowly learns that Cooper is far more than the popular boy she believed didn't notice her. Thrown into the mix are two other Cooper admirers, popular, catty ex-girlfriend Claire and rich best friend Sebastian.As the romance develops we are also transported to the present and drawn into the fallout of Cooper's death and the possibility of foul play. Libby is searching for the truth and clues are slowly, if not subtly, revealed. Learning more about the characters and their respective feelings and secrets draws readers into Cooper's world. Friends and family members become suspects in the mysterious death and incidents from Cooper's past also muddy the waters.
Realistic characters and a sweet love story at the heart of this mystery provide much appeal. The final revelation is satisfying, if a little anti-climatic. The fact that Libby alone believes Cooper did not commit suicide beggars belief, but her determination to find the truth makes for a good story. Rebecca James does succeed early on in creating a compelling read in the whodunit style. Chapters told from different characters' perspectives add to the empathy and also work well to create, and then solve the mystery for readers. Also delving into themes of popularity and 'not judging a book by its cover', the combination of romance and suspense will appeal mostly to girls aged 15 and over.