Verdict: NOCTURNAL MEETINGS OF THE MISPLACED is a young adult thriller filled with mystery and intrigue. Its many twists and turns will keep readers on the edge of their seats.
Fifteen-year-old Tommy Walker and his little sister are sent to live with relatives they’ve never met. Their aunt and uncle provide the first stable home they have ever had, but the small town of Summertime, Indiana, isn’t as idyllic as it appears. Tommy befriends Finn Wilds, the stepson of the local sheriff who introduces him to a new group of friends. They soon find themselves tracking down clues in order to unlock the secrets of an unsolved murder.
Abuse is a recurring theme throughout the novel, which may make some readers uncomfortable. Tommy comes from an unstable home environment as does his friend Finn, who is regularly beaten by his stepfather. Another member of the group, Silence, also comes from a troubled home. Those who can stomach scenes of physical and emotional abuse will find NOCTURNAL MEETINGS OF THE MISPLACED to be a grim insight into the lives of children who have lived through such horrifying experiences. While it is a strong thematic element, the abuse portrayed throughout the novel is neither graphic nor gratuitous and is an essential part of the plot.
Tommy is the protagonist of NOCTURNAL MEETINGS OF THE MISPLACED, but after several chapters his point of view begins to alternate with Finn’s. The shifting point of view is a bit clumsy, particularly as Finn’s voice isn’t particularly distinct and can easily be mistaken for Tommy’s. While the contrasting narrators help to move the plot along, it would have been more effective if the alternating points of view had been established from the beginning of the novel.
NOCTURNAL MEETINGS OF THE MISPLACED is a bit slow to start, but once it does it unfolds quickly. Much of the beginning focuses on school and family related drama, but the story really begins when Tommy and his friends try to solve the cold case murder that has long haunted their town. The novel is packed with suspense, intrigue, and a hint of romance. It takes some dark turns, but doesn’t push the boundaries of young adult fiction.
Author R.J. Garcia delivers an electrifying young adult novel in NOCTURNAL MEETINGS OF THE MISPLACED. It could be better paced, but is otherwise an exciting and rousing story. Readers of any age will admire the ingenuity and bravery of the young cast of characters and cheer them on.
~Christine-Marie Liwag Dixon for IndieReader