Nickel Plated by Aric Davis
Finding a good YA mystery is not always easy. Usually I like the premise but not the story. That was not the case here. 12 yr old Nickel is a runaway from abusive foster homes. He vows to never to return and is living on his own.
Nickel tracks down pedophiles online and works as a private investigator. Adults must pay for his services but Nickel helps other kids for free. Arrow goes to Nickel, she believes her younger sister Shelby was kidnapped. Nickel takes the case and discovers an ugly crime ring.
The author does a good job of establishing his main character (Nickel isn't his given name) and revealing a little of his background story. A 12 yr old PI sounds a little far fetched but the author makes it work. A few things do need to be tweaked but overall a solid debut.
The strength of this story lies in the believability of the main character. Some of the best PI's have a dark troubled past, Davis successfully establishes Nickel's demons.
Though I wish Nickel was at least 14 yrs old, 15 would've been ideal. With the selling of marijuana and the blackmailing of pedophiles, I'd place Nickel Plated at the older YA spectrum. I believe there' s an audience for Nickel Plated but I also think the young age of the protagonist will keep some older teens who would like it from picking it up.
I just can't see a lot of older teens wanting to read a novel featuring a 12 yr old. Also Nickel's age limits the chances of possible relationships. Nickel's client Arrow is a few years older and they work well together but you know nothing is going to happen between the two because Nickel too young.
Age aside, this is a good mystery and Nickel is a wonderful new protagonist. I am looking forward to seeing where Davis takes this series.
Read an excerpt