Holly Hernandez, voted “Miss Bright of ’79” and valedictorian at her previous school, is excited to start fresh at Flatbush Technical High School, one of the most competitive public schools in New York City. She’ll be one of thousands; anonymous. But her dreams of a normal school life disappear when her mother, a homicide detective, has to investigate the murder of Mr. Friedman, the social studies teacher.
One of her classmates, Xander Herrera, quickly becomes the primary suspect. The tall, awkward boy is socially inept, but Holly doesn’t think he’s a murderer. She is intent on exonerating him—but he wants nothing to do with her. To Xander, Holly is the overly enthusiastic student who always sits in the front row and answers all the teachers’ questions—correctly. He hates perky people!
Eventually cleared of the crime, Xander is determined to find the killer before Holly. As they race to solve the case, their separate investigations lead to a slew of suspects, including another teacher seen arguing with Friedman and a mysterious person named Steve who met with him several times before his death. Could it have been a disgruntled student? Ultimately, a trophy for a disco-dancing contest leads the intrepid young detectives to the Mission Venus nightclub and a murderer intent on killing again!
Click here to read A Day in the Life – Holly Hernandez blog post by Richie Narvaez.
Winner of the 2020 Agatha Award for Best Children’s / YA Mystery
Nominated for an Anthony Award
Finalist, 2012 Latino Book Award for You Don’t Have a Clue: Latino Mystery Stories for Teens (Piñata Books, 2011).
“Readers will find plenty of action and suspense, a complex mystery, as well as humor and a slew of interesting characters. The 1979 setting–with the absence of current technology such as cell phones and laptops, sets a refreshing stage where the characters use other methods to uncover information. Readers will appreciate the detailed world created, enriched by the addition of appendices following the story which give additional insight to some of the characters. VERDICT: A complex, exciting mystery that will leave readers hoping for a sequel.”—School Library Journal
“A teen mystery set in an elite public school in 1970s New York City. The novel alternates between Holly’s and Xander’s perspectives as the danger mounts and the two investigate the case in parallel. This fast-paced, skillfully developed murder mystery offers equal billing to both characters, their separate lives, and their individual problems while also examining gender inequality and social injustice and providing an interesting look at the history of disco as a safe place for queer people and people of color. A fun murder mystery with a side of disco fever.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Cortez complements her adult level Hit List: The Best of Latino Mystery (2009) with 18 new tales (from a largely different set of Latino/Latina authors) featuring teen characters and concerns. Overall, a consistent, well-crafted collection.” —Kirkus Reviews review of You Don’t Have a Clue: Latino Mystery Stories for Teens (Piñata Books, 2011).
“This excellent collection gives faces to Latino teens in a most original way.”—Booklist (Starred Review) review of You Don’t Have a Clue: Latino Mystery Stories for Teens (Piñata Books, 2011).
“The mix of realistic and fantastic mysteries guarantees broad reader appeal for this impressive collection.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books review of You Don’t Have a Clue: Latino Mystery Stories for Teens (Piñata Books, 2011).
“The variety of subject, tone and place gathered here is impressive, making this anthology potentially appealing to a wide swath of teens.”—Mamiverse review of You Don’t Have a Clue: Latino Mystery Stories for Teens (Piñata Books, 2011).
RICHIE NARVAEZ is the author of Hipster Death Rattle (Down & Out Books, 2019) and Roachkiller and Other Stories (Beyond the Page, 2012), which won the 2013 Spinetingler Award for Best Anthology. His work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Latinx Rising: An Anthology of Science Fiction and Fantasy (Mad Creek Books, 2020), Hit List: The Best of Latino Mystery (Arte Público Press, 2009) and You Don’t Have a Clue: Latino Mystery Stories for Teens (Piñata Books, 2011). He served as president of the New York Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, Artist in Residence of the Bronx Council on the Arts and a judge for the 2019 PEN America’s Open Book Awards. He teaches at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and lives in the Bronx.
ATOS Interest Level: Upper Grades
Category: Young Adult