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Lex Talionis by Starla Huchton

If you're a fan of teen sleuth stories, but you want something darker as you ease the transition into 'real' noire, this is ideal. It's dark, but not a full-blown horror story by any means (cautionary note: I'm pretty warped, so your mileage may vary).

The stuff I liked--the main character is chilly and intriguing, in a way that I've seen other authors try to imitate. The femme fatale tells the story, and she owns her label and her actions. That was refreshing and very cool. I also loved the...what do you call a bromance between two girls? Sororomance? Whatever you call it, it's really well done. The mystery and atmosphere are quite strong as well. I could tell the author wasn't a psychologist by profession, but it was still pretty well-researched. I really loved how ambitious Lexi was, and the way lots of little details were consistent--like mentions of ramen and studying.



The mystery is intriguing, although I felt the dark stuff was more heavily weighted to the beginning than the end--and I admit to figuring the murderer's identity out a bit early. I actually thought it could have been more violent and dark, but readers who want the noire but can't do the violence will probably appreciate that. A couple things here and there could have been more subtle, too, if I'm nitpicking.

I'd probably give this a 3.5, because it was good but left me wanting more darkness--but I'm rounding up because I think a lot of Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girl, and Desperate Housewives fans who want to tickle their book craving will love this. It's also similar to The Basic Eight by Daniel Handler (which I freaking loved), Ellen Hopkins' works, and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.