Amanda Martin is a young woman who has created an online game called Ripper. She has put together a team of sleuths who enjoy pitting their wits, solving various puzzles and mysteries, and sharing their conclusions in their internet community.
Her father is the deputy chief of police at San Francisco and when the murder of a security guard at a local school looks set to stump him, Amanda engages her friends to solve the case.
As the deaths begin to mount up, the mystery proves an obsession, but then the stakes are raised when Amanda's mother disappears. Is her life in danger too?
This is Allende's first foray into crime writing and it is a great book, though reminded me of the tone of other American novels I have read this year - 'Where'd You Go Bernadette' and 'Goldfinch'. They are all told for the perspective of a young adult and all have a quirky, eccentric tone. It means the story seems light, entertaining and humorous while also revealing darker, melancholy, deeper messages.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, steaming through its 400+ pages. I am not sure I was entirely convinced by the 'crime' element and think the structure of the book was slightly unbalanced in its presentation of this thread. Instead the characterisation and story of the alternative, New Age life of an unconventional family in San Francisco was beguiling in itself.