Book Review: The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

body-finderLast month, I attended an event held by the Sumner, Washington Arts Commission for local authors. For four hours, we listened to authors talk about their books, their inspiration and the state of publishing. One of the writers on the panel was Kimberly Derting, author of The Body Finder, a Young Adult Paranormal-Romance-Mystery, and the first in a series by the same name.

Violet Ambrose is your normal sixteen year old high school student. At least outwardly, everything is normal. She’s got all the pressures of being a modern day teenager: parents, school, and the problems that come with having her best friend be the boy she now has a huge crush on.

But Violet also has a gift – she can sense the bodies of people who have not died of natural causes, and can sense the murderers who killed them. When girls in her Western Washington home town begin going missing, Violet realizes that she may be uniquely qualified to find the killer. But this gift comes at a price, and for Violet, the cost may be everything she has.

When I stumble across a book written by someone local, it’s sometimes quite surprising to find out that good writers live so close to home. I mean, I’ve somehow got the idea in my head that writers always live somewhere else – somewhere more dramatic like New York or Martha’s Vineyard or Malibu. As I’ve met more and more writers from the Pacific Northwest, my expectations are slowly changing. There are a lot of very good writers very close to home, and Kimberly Derting is definitely one of them. It’s also very cool to read a story set in an area where you know the street names.

The Body Finder is well written, and quite a page turner. I read it in just a couple of days, and though I am not the target audience (YA Girls in the 13-17 year old range), I do appreciate a good story when I read it. My wife really liked it too, so it definitely resonates with the (slightly) older female crowd who remembers what it was like to be a girl in high school. It does, at times, get caught up in the melodrama and cliché teenage angst of homecoming dances and petty relationship rivalries, something that perhaps I don’t appreciate quite as much as the target audience might. The writing style is consistent throughout the book, but it does feel a bit like a first novel, and I’m betting that the second in the series will be a little tighter. I know I learn a lot from every book that I write, and I’m guessing that there are a few things in The Body Finder that Derting would fix given the experience of now having written three other books.

Having said that, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who frequently reads the YA Paranormal / Romance / Mystery category. I’m actually looking forward to picking up the next in the series when time permits, and reading more about the area in which I live.

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