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By Linda Gerber

Sleuth Speak/a division of Penguin Group, 2008 ($6.99)
Ages 12 and up ; Grades 7 and up
ISBN-10: 0142411183
ISBN-13: 978-0-14-241118-6

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

Aphra Connolly, the young heroine of DEATH BY BIKINI, decides she’s waited long enough on the resort island her dad had unceremoniously moved her to. She hasn’t seen her mother, Natalie, in four years, and she wants to know why she’d deserted the family. Okay, so mom’s a spy, and her presence could put her husband and daughter in danger, but Aphra missed her. When Seth Mulo and his parents came to the island, she fell for the guy big time, but he and his family, who’d come to the island seeking safety, had to go on the run again. Before he left, Seth gave in to Aphra’s pleading and told her how to locate her mother. He also gave her a ring.

Telling her dad she was going to visit friends in South Carolina, she instead went to Seattle to find her Mom, and she did. Mom was less than thrilled to see her, and Joe, the guy she was running a pottery shop with, was downright hostile. Aphra could tell she wasn’t wanted, but she wasn’t going to leave gracefully. She is told to stay put in the tiny apartment where her mother is living until a flight back to the island could be arranged, but she quickly got tired of that. She climbed out on the tiny balcony and met the neighbor, a hunky young man who flew his own plane and sympathized with her plight.

Against orders, she decided to go exploring around the market district where Natalie worked. To her utter shock, she ran smack into Seth! He was also less than thrilled to see her there, and worst of all, he asked for his ring back.

Pretty soon, Aphra was sorry she’d made the decision to come to Seattle. She realizes she’s being stalked, and finds out to her sorrow that some of the people she’s met are not who they seem. She and her mom endure a terrible journey, trying to find safety from people who want them dead. The ending is bittersweet. She has to say goodbye to someone she loves one more time, but she and her mother have rediscovered their love for each other and Aphra understands and forgives Natalie for her actions.

Aphra is smart, resourceful, and funny. I look forward to her next adventure, which is previewed at the end of the book. She will go through another major change, learn more about her mother, and may, perhaps, be reunited with a very good friend.

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