Published by Balzer & Bray on January 26th 2016
Genres: Mystery, YA
Source: ARC borrowed thru Around the World ARC Tours
All Imogene Scott knows of her mother is the bedtime story her father told her as a child. It's the story of how her parents met: he, a forensic pathologist, she, a mysterious woman who came to identify a body. A woman who left Imogene and her father when she was a baby, a woman who was always possessed by a powerful loneliness, a woman who many referred to as troubled waters.
When Imogene is seventeen, her father, now a famous author of medical mysteries, strikes out in the middle of the night and doesn't come back. Neither Imogene's stepmother nor the police know where he could've gone, but Imogene is convinced he's looking for her mother. She decides to put to use the skills she's gleaned from a lifetime of her father's books to track down a woman she's never known, in order to find him and, perhaps, the answer to the question she's carried with her for her entire life.
Rebecca Podos' debut is a powerful, affecting story of the pieces of ourselves that remain mysteries even to us - the desperate search through empty spaces for something to hold on to.
~ First off, I loved Imogene Scott- she is one of my favorite characters of 2015. A lot nerdy, a lot quirky, and someone I would love in my book club. This book surprised me so much, it has the feel of a sleeper hit!
~ The book starts off with a bit of tragic whimsy (yes, I know that sounds contrary, but just trust me), and it was darkly magical.
~ Things unfold slowly in the book, relationships and personalities are revealed as we go along. Imogene is pretty fantastic right off the bat, but I really enjoyed how my first impressions of other characters (Joshua, Lindy, Jessa) evolved as the story and Imogene’s interactions with them deepened. Imogene isn’t necessarily a 100% reliable narrator.
~ While Imogene isn’t a social outcast, she does have trouble emotionally connecting to people, and most of her friendships are fairly shallow. Although I did enjoy the crush Im had on Jessa’s brother (who is adorkable), my favorite part of the book was Imogene and Jessa’s friendship. Imogene had previously stereotyped Jessa, but it turns out Jessa is a lot deeper and a lot more kick ass than she appears.
~ ~ love that Im calls Rebecca, the book she’s re-reading as one of her “all-time beloved darling favorites”. I am so stealing that from her. 😉
~ Jessa is not the only person Imogene doesn’t really get. as Lindy is complicated too. Imogene and her father have managed to stay pretty insular despite having Lindy in the family.
~ The Mystery of Hollow Places isn’t a typical whodunit. There’s not a trail of dead bodies, or an art heist (although there is art involved), or hot FBI agents (sadly). It’s about the mystery of families and human minds and how complicated individuals are. There are some missing people though, and I love that Imogene has to do most everything old school because she isn’t a computer hacker or a millionaire. She’s just a girl who’s read a lot of great detective novels.
~ honestly, if I was Imogene, I’d be sure to have a psychiatrist with prescription meds on standby. There is definitely some mental health issues in her family. It’s handled well though, no one is portrayed as a raving lunatic, rather as people who despite love and family aren’t always able to function as usual.
~ There are certain things that Imogene chooses to do at the end, or rather the way she handles them, which is admirable as hell. And you can see how she gets to the place she ends up by the journey she takes in the book. We’re talking character growth, people.
~ This book could have been all gloomy, with sad missing parents and discovering dark family secrets, but there’s plenty of humor and funny scenes to lighten things up. It strikes a perfect balance between gloom and glee.
~ I would love sequels to this book, because I’m hardcore invested in these characters. Maybe Imogene, Girl Detective: The College Years?
Imogene Scott- our quirky Girl Detective, but not so quirky as to be unrelate-able.
Joshua Scott- Imogene’s missing mystery writer father, and the author or current book No Shirt, No Shoes, No Pulse (a title that just makes me chuckle).
Lindy- Imogene’s very calm and controlled stepmother.
Jessa Price- Imogene’s oldest friend, despite their differences. She’s the gorgeous girl down the street, rich and uber popular. She’s the Cordelia to Imogene’s Buffy.
Chad Price- Jessa’s older brother and Imogene’s long unrequited crush. He’s a hunky nerd who is on my long list of book boyfriends.
Sidonie- Imogene’s long lost mother, she left when Imogene was a toddler and has never returned.
There are lots of other characters- Jessa’s slightly Neanderthal boyfriend, a crazy cousin, a childhood friend/husband of a character, the Price’s parents, Miles Faye (the protagonist of Joshua Scott’s novels who manages to feel real), but I can’t reveal too much without giving away plot.
There were lots of MM’s in this book, but I guess the one that sets up the book is when Imogene drags Jessa into her search for answers, because Jessa is awesome.
Stop the Clock:
I liked this book, so much. I like it even more upon reflection. I can’t wait to read more from Rebecca Podos!
The Mystery of Hollow Places gets a Midnight Book rating of: