The Amateurs by Sara Shepard | Review

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: The Amateurs #1
As soon as Seneca Frazier sees the post on the Case Not Closed website about Helena Kelly, she’s hooked. Helena’s high-profile disappearance five years earlier is the one that originally got Seneca addicted to true crime. It’s the reason she’s a member of the site in the first place.

So when Maddy Wright, her best friend from the CNC site, invites Seneca to spend spring break in Connecticut looking into the cold case, she immediately packs her bag. But the moment she steps off the train in trendy, glamorous Dexby, things begin to go wrong. Maddy is nothing like she expected, and Helena’s sister, Aerin Kelly, seems completely hostile and totally uninterested in helping with their murder investigation.

But when Brett, another super user from the site, joins Seneca and Maddy in Dexby, Aerin starts to come around. The police must have missed something, and someone in Dexby definitely has information they’ve been keeping quiet.

As Seneca, Brett, Maddy, and Aerin begin to unravel dark secrets and shocking betrayals about the people closest to them, they seem to be on the murderer’s trail at last. But somewhere nearby the killer is watching . . . ready to do whatever it takes to make sure the truth stays buried.

The Amateurs was the first book I read Sara Shepard, but it won't be my last! 
It will come as no surprise that The Amateurs is a YA suspense/mystery--you'll already know this even before reading the synopsis, after seeing who the author is. After reading the first few chapters I could tell the author knows her stuff. I mean, she's written dozens of books in this genre and even though this was my first book by her, I can tell she has the formula down. This book felt very formulaic--none of the characters nor the plot and situations they found themselves felt new, not even the twists and turns truly surprised me. However, this did not stop me from enjoying this book very entertaining book anyway.

The Amateurs follows five amateur crime solvers that were brought together via a website called Case Not Closed, where members post about and try to solve cold cases. Helena Kelly's disappearance and murder was a high profile case a year ago, but the police are at a standstill and the case went cold. Until Helena's sister, Aerin, posted about it on Case Not Closed and Seneca Frazier, one of its members, decided to use her spring break to investigate the murder that she followed quite closely, almost obsessively, in the news a year ago. Seneca and Aerin were joined by other CNC members Maddy Wright (Seneca's best friend on the site) and Brett Grady. As they enter the rich and privileged world of Aerin and Helena's town of Dexby, Connecticut the group soon realize that they have more in common than they thought. But, someone does not want them digging into Helena's murder, and will do anything to keep certain truths from coming to light.

Like I said, I've read these characters before and the mystery of the murdered sister have been done before loads of times. And yet, I couldn't stop reading! I inhaled this book in two days and I was kinda sorry to see it end because after the revelation in the end I really, really want to know what happens next. This is why I had a hard time giving The Amateurs my star rating--my initial rating was four stars because I had such a great time reading it and I wanted more, but I felt like four stars was too generous because I didn't find the overall story to be like wow! amazing! you know? So, so I went with three stars. I guess that's the magic of Sara Shepard, because even though you can basically guess what will happen next, you're compelled to keep reading anyway and be highly entertained from the first page to the end. I liken The Amateurs to eating junk food--addicting and delicious, but ultimately lacking nutritional value, or in this case, true substance in terms of characters, plot, and mystery. However, I want more of The Amateurs and I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series just like I can't stay away from junk food for long.

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