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The Christopher Killer    by Alane Ferguson order for
Christopher Killer
by Alane Ferguson
Order:  USA  Can
Puffin, 2008 (2006)
Hardcover, Paperback, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Mysteries for young adults usually leave readers wanting, which is why many teens will go from reading kiddie mysteries to adult mysteries, skipping the YA mystery series altogether. Alane Ferguson has managed to write a novel that bridges that gap. The Christopher Killer has the hardcore mystery aspects that older teen readers crave, but the protagonist is their own age, with similar problems.

Cameryn Mahoney lives in the small town of Silverton, Colorado with her county coroner dad and with her mammaw - who has definite views on how a young lady should act. Though Cammie's intense interest in forensics goes against her grandmother's expectations, she's determined to follow her dream. The first step to reaching her goal is to become her father's assistant, which everyone balks at initially. But they come to realize that Cammie has a natural talent for observation, letting the dead tell their stories.

On her second foray with her dad, they find the dead body of Cammie's friend Rachel. She appears to be the latest victim of the murderer known as The Christopher Killer, because he always leaves a St. Christopher medal on the corpse. Silverton is overtaken by a media frenzy when renowned psychic Dr. Jewel (who claims he spoke with Rachel's spirit) comes to town. Cammie is determined not only to find Rachel's killer before he can strike again, but also to prove Dr. Jewel is a fake, since everything he stands for goes against her scientific beliefs.

The Christopher Killer is not for the faint of heart. The descriptions of dead bodies and the autopsy are graphic. At one point, I closed my eyes as I do when things get too gory on CSI, but unfortunately this does not work when reading a book. However, it is this hardcore attention to detail that makes Ferguson stand out from other authors of young adult mysteries. Even though Cammie is a high school student, it is very easy for older readers to connect with her, making this mystery a good choice for adults as well as teens.

The case is resolved a little fast, but that just helps keep the reader engaged. Mystery fans and enthusiasts of forensic-based crime dramas will devour Alane Ferguson's The Christopher Killer. Luckily, it is only the first in her series featuring forensic-scientist-in-training Cameryn Mahoney.

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