For all of Imogene Scott’s 17 years, her mother has been a mystery. She disappeared when Imogene was a baby, and all Imogene knows of her are the bits and pieces her father, a medical mystery author, is willing to reveal—and that isn’t much. Now Imogene’s father has gone missing, and Imogene is convinced he’s searching for her mother. When the police and Imogene’s stepmother provide few leads on his whereabouts, Imogene decides the only way to track down her father is to investigate what happened to her mother by taking a page out of one of her father’s mysteries. Although Imogene is prepared to do this alone, her flaky best friend proves to be both a surprising asset and comedic relief. For Imogene, locating her parents is not about restoring her family, but about finding herself.
Narrated in Imogene’s sardonic and observant first-person point of view, The Mystery of Hollow Places explores themes of isolation, identity and familial ties. It’s not exactly a thriller, but it’s a page-turner nonetheless, with writing that’s crisp and efficient and characterization that’s strong and dynamic. This extraordinary debut novel from Rebecca Podos is an easy contender for a Morris or Edgar Award.
Kimberly Giarratano is the author of Grunge Gods and Graveyards, a young adult paranormal mystery.