Meet Scarlett, a smart, sarcastic fifteen-year-old, ready to take on crime in her hometown. When Scarlett agrees to investigate a local boy’s suicide, she figures she’s in for an easy case and a quick buck. But it doesn’t take long for suicide to start looking a lot like murder.
As Scarlett finds herself deep in a world of cults, curses, and the seemingly supernatural, she discovers that her own family secrets may have more to do with the situation than she thinks…and that cracking the case could lead to solving her father’s murder.
Tell Me More: Sometimes you dream about a book and you wake up knowing that you’ll probably never get to read it or see it on your shelf. But sometimes you do, and the joy of that discovery is only enhanced by the creativity of the story. Scarlett Undercover is that book.
Scarlett is more than the Veronica Mars-esque character described on the book cover: she is unabashedly, unapologetically herself. She is determined, clever as hell, and so comfortable in her own skin that I was a little bit jealous. She was raised as a Muslim, but that’s just as much a part of her as her penchant for quick quips and her insatiable curiousity. I was sold on her as a protagonist from the very first page, and I can’t even begin to explain how amazing it feels to be able to say that about a book with a POC main character. I wish I had more opportunity to say it.
Opportunity is Scarlett’s strong suit, however, and the plot hinges on her ability to see things for what they are, and find the truth. The mysteries that Scarlett grapples with are complex and compelling, while remaining intimate enough that the reader understands why Scarlett is so drawn to solving them. There were some weak moments, and some of the execution was paced a little too quickly for my tastes. That said, I didn’t mind too much, because I was invested enough in Scarlett that I would follow wherever the story took her. The paranormal aspects were endlessly fascinating, but not quite as developed as I would have liked. Again, I was still along for the ride. I can be patient, because Scarlett is the kind of character that carries the story no matter what.
There’s no denying that Veronica Mars, while a beloved series, has had some filler episodes, some slower moments that could lost some viewers. If we must compare Scarlett to Veronica, then I would feel remiss in not recommending that readers follow Scarlett anyway. Let her live her story, and draw you in. In one book, she’s convinced me. Let her convince you.
Scarlett Undercover is Jennifer Latham’s debut novel. She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma with her husband and two daughters.