February 13, 2017

A Study in Forensics • To Catch a Killer (+ Guest Post)

Out last Tuesday, To Catch a Killer is a fun young adult mystery/thriller about a girl caught up in trying to catch a murderer, aided by her knowledge of forensics. I'll be sharing more of my thoughts below, but first, I'm sharing a guest post from author Sheryl Scarborough! I knew immediately that I wanted to ask her to share about forensics, and so the question I posed was, "What about forensics fascinates you? Why did you decide to make that the main character's career path?" Check out what Sheryl had to say below!

Except in rare cases, a positive forensic result is irrefutable PROOF. I am fascinated by every aspect of the science, from how it was discovered and developed down to, and including, the problems popping up in the real world. Who wouldn’t want irrefutable proof regarding something your life depends on? I know I would.

Why did I make forensics my character’s path? The formal answer is: In To Catch a Killer, my MC Erin wanted to know three things: who killed her mother (when she was just a baby)…the identity of her father (her mother never revealed this information)…and, most of all, she wanted to know that her father wasn’t the killer.

Teenage Erin thinks there is no way to get answers to her questions…until her biology teacher introduces her to the power of DNA and a DNA database. This ignites a quest in her to learn everything she can about forensics.

The informal answer is: that (for me, anyway) this forensics stuff is cool as hell and I couldn’t resist trying to create a story around it.

I definitely share Sheryl's fascination with forensics, so it was cool to hear why she likes it and why Erin is passionate about using it in her sleuthing. Thanks for sharing, Sheryl! And now, before I give you a bit more information about the book and the author, check out my review.

To Catch a Killer book cover
If you're a longtime reader of my blog, you'll know that I'm not much of a mystery or thriller reader. You may be wondering why I decided to give To Catch a Killer a shot, and it really boils down to just one thing: forensics.When I read the pitch for this one, the fact that forensics was going to play a part in the mystery sold me on giving it a shot. The story revolves around Erin Blake, a girl who is famous for surviving three days as a toddler next to the corpse of her murdered mother. She's grown pretty normal under the care of her mother's best friend, except for her lingering questions about her unidentified father and her mother's murder. She finds herself under scrutiny yet again when she discovers the dead body of her biology teacher; the worst part is that she suspects that murderer is the one who killed her mother. Inspired by her uncle, who works in forensics for the FBI, and her own desire for answers, Erin embarks on her very own investigation with the help of her friends and her long-time crush.

I'm glad I decided to give this book a shot. It was really engaging, and I was glued to the book until the very end as I simply had to know what would happen next. I appreciated the integration of forensics, and found the explanations about it really interesting (though I can't speak to the authenticity, as I'm not an expert!). However, it was difficult to suspend my disbelief at times, as a lot of the discoveries and revelations came a little too conveniently. Additionally, I wasn't fond of the main character's behavior, particularly in her friendships and her romantic aspirations, and I definitely rolled my eyes more than once over things she did. It was really only my desire to find out how it ended that kept me going, even though the ending actually left me with mixed feelings. Still, I thought To Catch a Killer was an okay YA mystery.

To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough
Publisher: Tor Teen Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Source: ARC from the publisher (Thanks!) | Buy This Book: Book Depository | Amazon | IndieBound

SHERYL SCARBOROUGH worked as a story writer and series developer in children's television before receiving her MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College, where she studied under Rita Williams-Garcia, Tom Birdseye, and Susan Fletcher. Scarborough has more than twenty years of writing experience, including writing for Kim Possible, Doug, Tiny Toon Adventures and Punky Brewster, among many other credits. She currently lives and works in Kalama, Washington. To Catch a Killer is her debut. Find her on Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Facebook | Website.


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