Golden, Christopher. Head Games. Simon Pulse, 2000. ISBN 978-0671775827 256 pp. $
New Englander and college frosh Jenna Blake lands a job as a diener (look it up!) and in between her classes and her social life, assists with autopsies and crime-fighting. In this fifth title in the series, there are TWO mysteries: the mayor of Jenna’s hometown has been murdered, and local teens seem to be having breakdowns that result in homicide. With her support system home for the holidays, can Jenna crack these cases? Are they related?
As it turns out, they are not. The title refers to the second set of murders, and the first case occasionally becomes a distraction. Had the only focus of the book been the teens who murdered their families as if brainwashed or drugged, the book may have been stronger. The dual plot does show how well Jenna and her boss work together as a team and how much they have come to rely on one another as colleagues, not just teacher/student.
Golden makes an important statement through his heroine in Jenna’s passionate soapbox speech about the media’s readiness to blame violent behavior in young people on video games and the internet, when factors such as environment and biology/genetics play an obviously larger role (Golden’s acknowledgment of Columbine perhaps?) Yay Jenna! Yay Chris, for being such a youth advocate!
Body of Evidence is an excellent mystery series for teens. The cultural and topical references are fun and up to the minute. Golden builds suspense with scene shifts that allow the reader to catch a glimpse into the murderer’s psyche–or the victim’s. Jenna is only a freshman, and has 3 1/2 years of college ahead of her… plenty of stories left to tell. How lucky for fans of the series!