Very Bad People

S. & S./McElderry. Apr. 2022. 416p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781534449732.
Gr 8 Up–Calliope Bolan’s transfer to Tipton Academy to escape the village that can’t stop talking about her mom’s death—and her own near-death—is not the escape she intends it to be when she gets wrapped up in a secret society. Haunt and Rail is dedicated to righting the wrongs at Tipton through pranks and “larks” and they set their sights on taking down a teacher for his inappropriate relationship with students. But Calliope’s time with Haunt and Rail is further complicated by what role the society may have played in her mother’s death. Can Calliope unlock the secrets of the past without getting tangled up in the present? Frick brings the campus to life in small, daily tidbits and chapters, and while the resolution to one half of the story is less than satisfying, it feels perfectly juxtaposed by the other ending. The characters’ race and ethnicity was not stated.
VERDICT A solid campus mystery for readers who want the intrigue of a secret society and a death to unravel, but who don’t want the gory details. Add especially to collections frequented by a younger high school crowd.

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