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Bet Your Life: A Jess Tennant Mystery    by Jane Casey order for
Bet Your Life
by Jane Casey
Order:  USA  Can
Griffin, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Bet Your Life is the second in a YA mystery series by Jane Casey, who also writes the excellent British police procedural adult series starring smart young London detective Maeve Kerrigan. The YA series lead is Jess Tennant, a strong-willed heroine with a dysfunctional family, who deals with both a mystery and a love triangle in Bet Your Life.

Unfortunately I missed the first book, How to Fall, but apparently it took sixteen-year-old Jess and her rather weak willed mother suddenly from London to stay with relatives (that Jess had never met before) in a small seaside town, Port Sentinel. Folk there reacted oddly to Jess as she looked very like her cousin Freya, who had recently died. Of course, Jess investigated Freya's death.

Jess also fell hard for Will Henderson, son of the local police inspector, who had once loved (and lost) Jess's mother. Dan Henderson sent his son to boarding school to get him away from Jess, who in turn had broken up with Will - for his own good. But she still cares deeply for him, which injects plenty of teen angst into the tale.

As this episode opens, a very unpleasant teen boy (a sexual predator), Seb Dawson, is found with a serious head injury by the side of the road on Halloween - a hit and run? At the request of her young cousin (a friend of the victim's half-sister), and determined to see justice done, Jess starts digging. This leads to her involvement with hot and handsome Ryan Denton, just as Will shows up again in town.

Complicating her family life, Will's father has been seen with Jess's mother, and her own father (who had deserted them) arrives in town, seeking a reconciliation, the return of his family - and funds. And, though her mother tends to be wishy-washy in her response, Jess is certainly not! At the same time, her best friend Ella visits from London and falls for Jess's cousin Hugo.

Jess is hard on herself. She muses, 'Jess Tennant. Specialties: rushing to judgment and leaping to conclusions. Romantic history: disaster followed by catastrophe.' But she's a good investigator and gets to the sordid truth of what happened to Seb Dawson. She also makes progress in her own relationships. If you enjoy a YA mystery, then jump into this series; you won't regret it.

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