Publication Date: October 11, 2011
Hartley Grace Featherstone is having a very bad day. First she finds out that her boyfriend is cheating on her with the president of the Herbert Hoover High School Chastity Club. Then he’s pegged as the #1 suspect in a murder. And if that weren’t enough, now he’s depending on Hartley to clear his name.
But as much as Hartley wouldn’t mind seeing him squirm, she knows he’s innocent, and she’s the only one who can help him. Along with her best friend, Sam, and the school’s resident Bad Boy, Chase, Hartley starts investigating on her own. But as the dead bodies begin to pile up, the mystery deepens, the suspects multiply, and Hartley begins to fear that she may be the killer’s next victim.
If I had to pick one word to describe Gemma Halliday's Deadly Cool, it would be smooth. It is a book of subtlety and deception--and I am not even talking about the murder mystery yet! On the surface it is a funny, fast read full of pop-culture references and modern technology with a dash of mystery. From beginning to end the read is effortless and enjoyable. Yet there are some really cool things being done under all that surface fun and frippery.
Hartley is an ideal feminist character. She is undaunted by a challenge; quick-thinking and curious. She can admit the hurt that goes along with her boyfriend cheating, but reacts accordingly--she dumps him. However, she can move past that to still be a friend (and only a friend) to him when he need her. She has healthy and fun relationships with both guys and girls; and is still open to the idea of romance after her break-up but doesn't need it. I also loved Chase's character. He was a great love interest/partner-in-detection without being a douche OR perfect. He had enough quirks and failings to make him interesting, while still being a really decent guy.
The mystery was a little predictable (though all the ins and outs of it were certainly not!), but still had me wondering if I had it right, just a little. Deadly Cool is the type of book that asks very little of you and promises you a good time -- which it delivers! The surprising part for me was the way the characters stuck with me after I left the book behind. Hartley isn't just a character I didn't mind reading about for a few hours; she's a girl I would like and admire if I knew her. (Plus, the ending is just swoony enough to make the list of books in between now and Social Suicide seem entirely too long!)
4 of 5 stars
This review also appears on Goodreads; I purchased my copy from Barnes & Noble for Nook.