I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly
Published by Penguin on August 4th 2015
Genres: Friendship, Humorous Stories, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Social Issues, Young Adult
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Sherlock meets Veronica Mars meets Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in this story of a wisecracking girl who meets a weird but brilliant boy and their roller-coaster of a semester that’s one part awkward, three parts thrilling, and five parts awesome When Philip Digby first shows up on her doorstep, Zoe Webster is not impressed. He's rude and he treats her like a book he's already read and knows the ending to. But before she knows it, Digby--annoying, brilliant and somehow attractive?--has dragged her into a series of hilarious and dangerous situations all related to an investigation into the kidnapping of a local teenage girl. A kidnapping that may be connected to the tragic disappearance of his own sister eight years ago. When it comes to Digby, Zoe just can't say no. Digby gets her, even though she barely gets herself. But is Digby a hero, or is his manic quest an indication of a desperate attempt to repair his broken family and exercise his own obsessive compulsive tendencies? A romance where the leading man is decidedly unromantic, a crime novel where catching the crook isn't the only hook, a friendship story where they aren't even sure they like each other--this is a contemporary debut with razor-sharp dialogue, ridiculously funny action, and the most charismatic dynamic duo you've ever met.
The one word that perfectly describes Trouble Is A Friend Of Mine by debut author Stephanie Tromly is quirky. I mean, the main character is even named Zoe (not quite Zooey, still). I opened this book expecting a mystery along the lines of Sherlock and Veronica Mars. What the book gave me was characterization on characterization on characterization, which is kind of the book version of stacks on stacks on stacks – at least for me. Tromly has quite the unique read in Trouble Is A Friend Of Mine. Readers who want a book with a flair for the dramatic with a hint of conspiracy will absolutely be satisfied by this debut young adult book.
Zoe has just moved from Brooklyn to a town in Upstate New York called Riverside Heights after the divorce of her parents. This is awful to Zoe, especially because she is scared this will ruin her chances at getting into Princeton and it also puts a curveball into her plan to get into a prestigious feeder school for Princeton called Prentiss. Riverside Heights is not the best place for Zoe, she’s having trouble making friends as the natives there do not take kindly to new people. However, when a black suit clad Digby shows up at her door unannounced, Zoe finds that she’s in for a whole lot of reluctant adventures with Digby at the helm as mastermind. She just can’t say no to Digby. When a girl named Marina Miller goes missing, there is a possibility that the missing girl may be connected to another girl who went missing years prior, Sally. With Digby on the trail, Zoe is along for quite the explosive ride as the two discover just how deep the rabbit hole of Marina’s disappearance goes.
The characters in Trouble Is A Friend Of Mine are so quirky that they feel fully realized. Zoe is a bit of a tomboy and does not seem to be able to get along with other girls even though she really wants to. Within her new friend group she is just one of the guys. She actually is consistently put upon and very much the ‘I don’t think this is such a good idea sort’ but like Chucky Finster, she always goes along with what Tommy Pickles, Digby, comes up with rather than be left out. Zoe is about to discover that River Heights is not nearly as boring as she had thought. Frankly, Zoe is just a fun character and it is easy to put yourself in her shoes and to understand her exasperation with Digby.
Digby is some kind of teenage genius criminal mastermind. He finds himself consistently getting into trouble with the truant officer on purpose. He is never in school yet seems to be getting good grades. He works odd jobs at the mall. He has several shady characters on his payroll and providing him information. Digby wears these weird black suits. His best friend is a football player named Henry. He also is quite protective of this twelve year old genius in their grade named Felix. Digby also has a touch of tragic in his past – his sister Sally went missing years ago, when he was seven. Digby, I think, is the quirkiest character of Trouble Is A Friend Of Mine. I mean, I read the book continuously wondering what he had up his sleeve next. I found it amazing that he kept getting them into and out of scrapes, especially at moments when I thought there is surely no getting out of this. He’s definitely one of the better, more fun characters I have read in a long time.
Tromly’s writing style has a flair for fun. This book is a mile a minute – meaning there’s not a lot of dull moments. Sure, there are parts that are heavy on the foreshadowing with the ‘little did I know’ bits thrown in here and there. I don’t love that. However, I think that her characterization outweighs the heavy foreshadowing for me. I really came to love the various characters in Trouble Is A Friend Of Mine, even mean girl Sloane. After finishing the book, I felt like there should be a sequel and I do not often feel like that. Fans of Veronica Mars and mysteries featuring unique and outlandish characters will eat up Stephanie Tromly’s debut.