Little Monsters by Kara Thomas
This whodunnit will keep you guessing until the end but the author cleverly gives enough clues that the mystery is definitely solvable. So much fun. There’s nothing fun about the premise of the book, though. Social workers took Kayce away from her unfit mother and sent her to live with her previously unknown father and his family. His family (wife, Ashley; a step-son Kayce’s age, Andrew; and a younger daughter, Lauren) welcome her with open arms and completely accept her as one of their own but Kayce doesn’t trust it. Her life has been too full of broken promises. But, oh, how she wants to. Her dad is quiet and a bit standoffish, but Kayce loves Ashley, Andrew, and Lauren. Also hard for her to believe is how she was immediately accepted by two best friends, Bailey and Jade. The best friends become a threesome when they fold Kayce into their duo. Their friendship is mostly strong with a few caveats: 1) although Bailey and Kayce are friends and will text each other or hang out on their own occasionally, Kayce and Jade are only together when Bailey is with them; 2) Bailey and Jade are definitely tighter than the three of them together (and most certainly closer than Bailey and Kayce); and 3) Kayce is mainly a homebody who enjoys doing homework, spending time alone, and hanging out with her family, whereas Bailey constantly wants to go out. She often makes Kayce feel guilty about this and shows up at her house and forces her to go out. During one of these times, Kayce gets busted trying to sneak out by her little sister. Thirteen-year-old Lauren has had a rough evening. She was intentionally not invited to her friend’s party. So, when she catches Kayce sneaking out to go have fun with Bailey and Jade, she begs Kayce to let her go, too. The three girls reluctantly agree and it ends up being the biggest mistake of their lives. Because of the events of that night, just days later, Bailey disappears. As the investigation begins, the secrets of those closest to Bailey start being revealed right and left and it seems like everyone's a suspect. As the investigation deepens and suspects begin to be weeded out, detectives start looking more closely into Kayce and her troubled past. And it changes everything.
Teens are gonna eat up this mystery. Fans of Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Don’t Look Back are especially going to love it. Excellent audio.