Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Title: Complicit
Author: Stephanie Kuehn
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: June 24, 2014
Genres: YA, Thriller, Mystery
Reviewed by: Ellen Fritz
Ellen’s rating: 5/5


Two years ago, sixteen-year-old Jamie Henry breathed a sigh of relief when a judge sentenced his older sister to juvenile detention for burning down their neighbor’s fancy horse barn. The whole town did. Because Crazy Cate Henry used to be a nice girl. Until she did a lot of bad things. Like drinking. And stealing. And lying. Like playing weird mind games in the woods with other children. Like making sure she always got her way. Or else.

But today Cate got out. And now she’s coming back for Jamie.

Because more than anything, Cate Henry needs her little brother to know the truth about their past. A truth she’s kept hidden for years. A truth she’s not supposed to tell. 

Trust nothing and no one as you race toward the explosive conclusion of this gripping psychological thriller from the William C. Morris Award-winning author of Charm & Strange.


A true page turner, Complicit is one of those books that I simply could not put down. When Jamie Henry finds out that his sister had been released from juvenile detention, his hands go numb and he changes from a dedicated student to a person who is suddenly driven by an urgency to find out the truth about his past and his birth mother. When his sister, Cate, starts to drop hints and pointers during phone conversations, his need to know becomes an obsession.

This is the kind of review where it is better to say as little as possible in order to avoid giving spoilers. For me, the three things that truly make this book outstanding, are the characters, the dark atmosphere created by the prose, and the highly disturbing and wonderfully twisted end.

The author truly gets into her main character's mind. Nervous, easily distracted by negative things, insecure and often very confused, Jamie is a complicated person and, clearly, mentally unstable. His sister, Cate, comes across as manipulative, spiteful and mostly insane, yet, we are told that she used to be a clever, outgoing and kind person.

The third important character, Jenny, Jamie's girlfriend, is such a cleverly flawed person that it made me ask serious questions about Jamie's ability to make healthy choices.

Often dark and depressing, this book gives the reader a look into the confusion of two thoroughly troubled minds. The negative reaction of the community towards the brother of an arsonist augments the morose atmosphere of the book.

If psychological thrillers and surprising endings are your thing, I recommend Complicit as an absolute must read.

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I'm a YA writer who grew up in Berkeley, California, which is a quirky sort of a place with a ton of wonderful bookstores. My very first job was working in one of those bookstores.

Passions of mine include mental health advocacy, social justice, and sports of all kinds. I currently live in Northern California with my family and our wild menagerie of pets. CHARM & STRANGE and COMPLICIT are out now. DELICATE MONSTERS will be out in 2015. 

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