Friday, November 9, 2012

Empty Coffin novels by Gregg Olsen

About the Empty Coffin series (from New York Times bestselling adult true crime author Gregg Olsen makes his YA debut with Empty Coffin, a gripping new fiction series for teens based on ripped-from-the-headlines stories…with a paranormal touch.

Summary of Envy (from Crime lives--and dies--in the deceptively picture-perfect town of Port Gamble (aka “Empty Coffin”), Washington. Evil lurks and strange things happen--and 15-year-olds Hayley and Taylor Ryan secretly use their wits and their telepathic “twin-sense” to uncover the truth about the town's victims and culprits.  Envy, the series debut, involves the mysterious death of the twins' old friend, Katelyn. Was it murder? Suicide? An accident? Hayley and Taylor are determined to find out--and as they investigate, they stumble upon a dark truth that is far more disturbing than they ever could have imagined. Based on the shocking true crime about cyber-bullying, Envy will take you to the edge--and push you right over.

Summary of Betrayal (from In this action-packed thriller sequel to Envy, foreign exchange student Olivia Grant is stabbed to death after a party--and the prime suspect is her best friend. As twins Hayley and Taylor Ryan get pulled into the aftermath of this Amanda Knox-like crime, they realize nothing is what it seems. Could it be betrayal of the ultimate kind?
Betrayal features real-life crime-solving techniques, heart-stopping suspense, plenty of red herrings, hard-hitting ethical questions, and information about the Amanda Knox case that inspired the novel. As the crime unravels, so does the twins' past…and they must face off against a family member who may unexpectedly have carried out the worst betrayal of all

Ms. Kiplinger's Opinion: I had not heard of this series, but saw that a sequel (Betrayal) came out to a book we already had in the library (Envy), so I ordered it thinking that they looked interesting.  When we received Betrayal, I read the summary and was intrigued seeing that it was loosely based on the true-crime story of Amanda Knox.  I had to read it at that point!  The first novel is based on the story of Megan Meier, who committed suicide after being cyberbullied by a "friend's" mother.  Though the story had a paranormal touch to it when it came to twins Hayley and Taylor, there was definitely some touches of the actual event worked into the story.  I enjoyed reading Envy, and the concept behind the writing (who doesn't like to read about things based on real events?!), so I immediately followed it up with Betrayal.  The Amanda Knox/Meredith Kercher case was pretty fascinating to me, so I was interested to see how Gregg Olsen would incorporate that into the story.  There are many small details that he used from the real case to make the story seem similar to it, but the story stood on its own also.  I was impressed with the twists that were involved in the stories and did not predict most of the things that happened which is the case with many crime mysteries and stories unfortunately.  Gregg Olsen does a good job of portraying the teens in a relatable way (especially for those like them), but makes the story interesting for anyone that likes reading crime fiction and has followed these types of stories.  I am anxiously awaiting the next title in the series to see what it is based on!  The author's notes are pretty important to the story as he helps explain the actual event that the story is based upon. 

You can find out more about the Megan Meier story here:

And more about the Amanda Knox/Meredith Kercher story here (no I don't use Wikipedia often, but it was the best summary I could find for this situation):

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