Peter Abrahams, the Edgar Award-winning author of REALITY CHECK, returns to gripping suspense for older teens with BULLET POINT. Wyatt’s life revolves around his love of three things: baseball, his mother, and his little half-sister. He could do without his bullying stepfather, and while he has heard rumors about his biological father, who is doing time in the penitentiary, he tries not to think about it too much. In this surprise-filled psychological thriller, Wyatt is called upon again and again to sort truth, trust, and lies in escalating fashion that will end in a life-and-death struggle.
Rusty, Wyatt’s stepfather, has been laid off from his factory job, making the usually surly man more abusive than ever. Wyatt tries to help his working mom by watching his younger sister Cammy get off to school and stay away from Rusty’s anger, but he has his own issues to sort out. The town’s sliding economy has forced the high school administrators to cancel all extracurricular activities, including baseball. The coach tries to get Wyatt into a wealthier district across the state and a new place to live, but his friend claims the last transfer spot before Wyatt can do so. Wyatt agrees to move with his friend and hopes to claim a transfer spot on the team for the following year.
Wyatt soon meets 19-year-old Greer, who, though just three years older, seems so much more worldly than him. Her father is also in the penitentiary, which happens to be in Wyatt’s new town and is the same facility holding his father for felony robbery. Greer’s father is in for burning down the family business to collect insurance, but lots of townspeople warn Wyatt that Greer was likely involved and that she has a bad reputation with boys. However, Wyatt just knows she makes him laugh and can’t stay away from her. He spends more time at Greer’s apartment, and she begins talking to his biological father about him when she visits her own father in prison. Then Wyatt starts getting cell phone calls from Sonny Racine, the father he’s never even seen. Sonny wants Wyatt to visit him, and Greer would like Wyatt to find out if Sonny is really innocent and protecting someone else as many believe.
Wyatt and Greer set out to interview anyone involved with Sonny’s case, as Wyatt cautiously establishes a relationship with him. Was he protecting Linda, Wyatt’s mom? She did have an alibi for that fateful night, but then who could Sonny have been protecting? Wyatt is kicked out of his new house for his relationship with Greer and moves in with her. They continue to trace down anything from the original robbery, and Sonny refuses to talk to Wyatt about who else may have been involved. They find innocent victims, other criminals who made deals, and conflicting reports from attorneys and newspapers.
Wyatt’s mother wants him to give up his relationship with Greer and his quest for information about Sonny and return home. Rusty has a new trucking job and is away a lot. Wyatt tries going home, but the questions remain, and he pursues the mystery with a vengeance. But as he finds out more, he also develops more questions. Things are not adding up, and clearly people are lying. But who?
A surprising, harrowing ending will keep readers turning pages quickly to find out what happens in this realistic, dark, edgy thriller.
Reviewed by Amy Alessio on April 27, 2010