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Book Review: The Dead and the Buried by Kim Harrington

     “Jade. . .”
The voice came again. Sure now, I threw off the covers and padded into the hallway, wincing at the noisy floorboards. I peeked my head into Colby’s room. He was sleeping- fitfully. He groaned and rolled over, then back again. I tiptoed down to my parents’ room. Marie was sleeping on her side, one hand hanging off the bed. Dad was lightly snoring.
So who’d called me?
I turned slowly, now at the top of the staircase, and peered into the darkness below. This was where it had happened. Where Kayla fell . . . or was pushed.
I placed my hand on the banister, closed my eyes, and imagined Kayla placing her hand in the very same spot, trailing her fingers over the polished wood . . . then feeling her balance go out from underneath her. I imagined what she must have felt in the instant she realized she was falling through the air. The terror that must have gripped her heart. The panic rushing through her veins as she rushed toward the bottom.
I saw the floor coming up to meet her, fast and furious, but then realized in horror that I wasn’t imagining anymore. My hand no longer gripped the banister. I wasn’t picturing Kayla falling.  I was falling.
What happened? Did someone push me? Did I fall on my own?
I screamed but no sound came out. The air rushing at my face told me I was falling fast, but it seemed to be happening in slow motion. I tried to put my arms up, to soften the blow I knew was coming to my head, but I couldn’t move my limbs. I was paralyzed.

And then I hit bottom.

17 year old Jade has just moved to suburban Boston, and is concerned about fitting in with the huge high school and the crowds that have been together forever.  Little does she know that she’s just moved into a murder house- where the Queen Bee and Mean Girl, Kayla, died earlier in the year. Now Kayla’s ghost is haunting the house and threatening her little brother Colby, forcing Jade to find out who killed her before something dangerous happens to her family- or to Jade herself.  Drawn deeper into the mystery and Kayla’s clique of friends and frenemies, can Jade figure out who the murderer is, or will the ghost (or the murderer) win out and destroy Jade instead?

Jade is instantly the talk of the school- not for being the new girl, but for being the girl who moved into the “murder house”, which her dad and step-mom conveniently forgot to tell her about. Her little brother tells her about seeing a shimmery girl in his room, which is the ghost of Kayla- the girl who died under mysterious circumstances earlier in the year.  While Jade would rather try and go through senior year, Kayla has other plans- find her killer, or Jade’s family will suffer.  And the killer seems to be one of those who knew Kayla and felt she had it coming, because as readers find out from Kayla’s journal entries, she gives Regina George a run for her money.

The alternating format gives readers a huge chill and enormous insight into Kayla’s character and the possible motives behind each suspect, while Jade races to find out who the killer is before anything worse happens to her family.  The tension between her stepmother and Jade is extremely believable, and hits just the right note, as does the building of suspicions between suspects.  Will keep you on edge, but do NOT skip to the end of the book, no matter HOW MUCH you might be tempted!!!!  A good pair with Anna Dressed In Blood, although not nearly as much gore, and will go over well with those who like Kimberly Derting (Body Finder series).  4 out of 5 stars.

eARC, and was saving it for after committee readings, and then found it on the shelf at a local chain bookstore while browsing with some of my teenagers, and while they buried themselves in manga, I buried myself in this and read it cover to cover.  I love how Harrington built all of her characters- no one is shiny perfect, everyone has flaws and facets that revel themselves page by page. Jade has her tortuous relationship with her stepmother, as well as her struggle with fitting in and then finding the killer, while trying to figure out who to believe- let alone trying to figure out where she fits in her family and missing her mom. Alexa is wrapped up into her studies and everything has to be perfect, and when it’s not, then her emotions come up to the surface. The secrets are everywhere, and that’s never more apparent than Kayla’s writing.
You’re never quite sure who’s she’s talking about at first in her entries- she’s got people down as numbers instead of names (a little Gossip Girls twist), but little by little you get clues and hints. First from Alexa, then from Faye, Kayla’s supposed best friend, and from others along the way. I didn’t figure out who the killer was until the end, and that is always the sign of a good mystery to me. The reasoning was well thought out and extremely plausible as well- definitely not a “you darn kids” ending like YA mysteries can turn out to be at times.  Absolutely a get signed and save book.  
The Dead and the Buried is currently rated as 3.82 stars on Goodreads as of 1/5.  It is published by Scholastic, ISBN 978-0-545-33302-3.