Sherlock meets Veronica Mars meets Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in this story of a wisecracking girl who meets a weird but brilliant boy and their roller-coaster of a semester that’s one part awkward, three parts thrilling, and five parts awesome.
When Philip Digby first shows up on her doorstep, Zoe Webster is not impressed. He’s rude and he treats her like a book he’s already read and knows the ending to. But before she knows it, Digby–annoying, brilliant, and somehow attractive?–has dragged her into a series of hilarious and dangerous situations all related to an investigation into the kidnapping of a local teenage girl. A kidnapping that may be connected to the tragic disappearance of his own sister eight years ago.
When it comes to Digby, Zoe just can’t say no. Digby gets her, even though she barely gets herself. But is Digby a hero, or is his manic quest an indication of a desperate attempt to repair his broken family and exercise his own obsessive compulsive tendencies?
Our main character is Zoe Webster, a high school student who is living with her mother after a recent divorce. She’s unhappy with being whisked off to a “small, safe town” and is already planning her escape to a private school near her dad’s place in NYC. Suddenly, Philip Digby shows up, and Zoe is unwillingly swept into his world. Digby and Zoe begin searching for Marina Miller, a local high school student who disappeared from her house in the middle of the night with no evidence left behind. Digby’s determined to find her because he thinks it may be related to a personal situation and, of course, he needs Zoe’s help. Their search leads them into hijinks of all sorts, including visiting a gynecologist’s office in the middle of the night to steal passwords and making drug deals to acquire information on their case.
What makes this book stand out are the characters. Stephanie Tromly has created a cast of unique and memorable individuals. Zoe has already resigned herself to the fact that she wants to get out of her new town of River Heights as fast as possible. She cuts her first day of school and spends most of her lunch periods eating alone. Digby, on the other hand, reminds me of a hurricane. If you’re in his path, somehow you’ll get swept up in what he’s doing. I truly couldn’t tell you how he accomplishes most of what he does, but he’s sneaky and brilliant and manages to get himself, Zoe, and their friends into a ton of tricky situations. He’s funny and strange and yet there’s enough of a human being underneath the crazy for the reader to connect to and fall in love with. And despite Digby’s humongous presence, Zoe is still clearly our main character. We’ve also got Henry, quarterback of the football team and an old friend of Digby’s who befriends Zoe as he too gets swept up in Digby’s plans. Other characters include Zoe’s well-meaning-but-oblivious mom, her douchebag dad, creepy, cult-like neighbors, two cops who don’t exactly stick to the rules, catty high school girls, and a school resource office set out to get revenge on Digby.
One thing I loved about Trouble Is a Friend of Mine is that the story isn’t focused on romance for Zoe. She’s got two very different prospects in Digby and Henry, and while we definitely see some of Zoe’s thoughts and internal debate on the subject, the book is much more focused on the friendships she builds with them and the adventures they get into while solving the mystery. It’s a side-note in the grand scheme of things, and that felt appropriate considering everything else that was going on in the story.
This book has so much character. From the very first page, Digby’s strange and interesting personality had me hooked. I don’t know how he does it, but he’s annoying, lovable, smart, and seems to be everywhere at once. The mystery is suspenseful and had my heart pounding in anticipation up to the very last second. The pages just flew by, and I never wanted it to end. I can see how this story may not be for everyone, but I loved it. I definitely recommend checking out Trouble Is a Friend of Mine for a fun and captivating mystery/adventure. The ending doesn’t quite wrap everything up, so I’m already on the lookout for the sequel: Trouble Makes a Comeback.
About the Author: Stephanie Tromly was born in Manila, grew up in Hong Kong, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, and worked as a screenwriter in Los Angeles. This is her first novel. She lives in Winnipeg with her husband and young son.
Trouble Is a Friend of Mine is available now wherever books are sold!