Parting from Pasadena

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High-drama friends in a high school setting can be a deadly combination, even on the West Coast where the vibes are a bit more laid back. In Sherri L. Smith’s Pasadena, the death of her friend Maggie drives Jude to figure out the true cause of Maggie’s demise.

While taking a summer vacation on the East Coast to visit her estranged father, Jude learns that her best friend Maggie has been found dead, floating in her pool. Quickly traveling home to Pasadena, Jude cannot accept the findings that Maggie committed suicide. Clinging to the idea that there was some foul play, Jude, with the assistance of her good friend Joey, play detective in the “whodunit” of Maggie’s death. In examining the group of disparate friends who were held together by Maggie’s personality, Jude comes to realize that everyone has their secrets and trusting them to someone else is sacred.

This was a quick read that was enjoyable in a beach-read kind of way, but it certainly had room to expand upon the friends’ lives and how they intersected with Maggie’s to more fully incorporate the mystery aspect of the narrative. It had quite a Pretty Little Liars vibe to it with the dead friend who is the glue to a diverse friend group and knows all their secrets, with each of the friends knowing a different facet of the dead friend. While I mostly enjoyed Jude’s witty and gruff personality, it was a bit too much at times, such that it made it seem rather unrealistic and made her a less sympathetic character.

Overall, I’d give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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