Anne Cassidy, Heart Burn

Scholastic, 2011, ISBN 978-1407107790

Another thrilling and thought-provoking book from Anne Cassidy, author of the wonderful Looking for JJ.

After a chance encounter with her former boyfriend, Tyler, A-level student Ashley can’t stop thinking about him and the time they spent together - their first encounter, his love of George Orwell, and their break-up after she saw him dealing drugs, a crime that landed him in jail. Then she discovers that Tyler is in hospital having being beaten up and left for dead. Through a friend, he gets a message to her: ‘You owe me.’ Months earlier, when they were still together, Tyler got her brother out of trouble as a favour to her. Now he’s calling in that favour. Ashley visits him and is soon caught up in a terrifying web of lies, intrigue and violence. No-one else believes that Tyler’s sudden disappearance from hospital is suspicious. Convinced he is in desperate danger, she tracks him down, but instead of rescuing him, she is captured by the ruthless drug-dealers who have abducted him, and her life too is on the line.

Cassidy’s plotline is fast-moving and exciting, and her characters are totally convincing. Ashley’s thought processes and the effect they have on her behaviour are particularly impressively portrayed. The drug-dealing theme is well handled. This book will be a big hit with twelve year-olds and above.