Published by TorTeen in February 7, 2017
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Erin Blake has one of those names. A name that, like Natalee Holloway or Elizabeth Smart, is inextricably linked to a grisly crime. As a toddler, Erin survived for three days alongside the corpse of her murdered mother, and the case—which remains unsolved—fascinated a nation. Her father's identity unknown, Erin was taken in by her mother's best friend and has become a relatively normal teen in spite of the looming questions about her past.
Fourteen years later, Erin is once again at the center of a brutal homicide when she finds the body of her biology teacher. When questioned by the police, Erin tells almost the whole truth, but never voices her suspicions that her mother's killer has struck again in order to protect the casework she's secretly doing on her own.
Inspired by her uncle, an FBI agent, Erin has ramped up her forensic hobby into a full-blown cold-case investigation. This new murder makes her certain she's close to the truth, but when all the evidence starts to point the authorities straight to Erin, she turns to her longtime crush (and fellow suspect) Journey Michaels to help her crack the case before it's too late.
Note: I received this book for free from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I was originally drawn to To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough because of its premise. It sounded like an interesting plot that will feature forensic science because of her “forensic hobby.” If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably already know that I’m a fan of YA mystery/thrillers. I also can’t resist a book that features forensic science. So basically, To Catch a Killer was made for me! Haha! It did not disappoint.
I’m not going to lie. To Catch a Killer did give me a bit of anxiety. As a forensic scientist, I know the importance of the chain of custody. The fact that Erin, the main character, was withholding evidence made be cringe. But I get liberties must be taken for the sake of fiction, and To Catch a Killer is not exactly real life. It does, however, have a great plot and provide a lot of cool forensic experiments. I would call this a win!
To Catch a Killer is about Erin Blake, a girl whose mother was murdered and the mystery is still left unsolved. She finds herself at the center of another murder when she finds her biology teacher dead. Together with her best friends, her longtime crush/fellow suspect, and her uncle, she tried to solve the murder of her biology teacher and maybe even the murder of her mother.
The plot was a page-turner. It did keep me on my toes most of the time, even though some things were a bit obvious. I can say I didn’t know who the killer was until Erin did, which is always fun! (I hate it when the killer is extremely obvious.) Scarborough also did fairly well tying up all the clues together. There were just a few minor things that didn’t quite click for me and felt unexplained. However, what truly made my heart flutter was all of the forensic science. Erin did several forensic experiments in this story. Some people may find it boring (because it’s science), but I thought it made the plot unique and interesting. Plus forensic science was a part of Erin’s personality.
With that being said, I do believe that Scarborough could have benefited from developing her secondary characters a bit more. It may have also helped the romance. Erin and Journey’s relationship was cute, but I just didn’t feel the chemistry. I can understand Erin’s connection with Journey because he is her longtime crush. For Journey, though, I couldn’t make the jump from being upset at her to almost kissing her. Did he have a secret crush on her too? I just don’t get it. I also would have loved to see Erin with her friends more. It seemed like Erin was just doing most of the investigating on her own, and when she was with her friends, they were disagreeing.
In the end, I think one of the true signs of a good book is that it leaves me wanting more, which To Catch a Killer did. The story did end off where there’s a possibility of a second book, but overall the story felt finished So I want more but would also be satisfied if it finished here. (Honestly, please write more!) I’d highly recommend that anyone who enjoys a good YA mystery/thriller to give To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.