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Death by Bikini (The Death by ... Mysteries) Mass Market Paperback – May 15, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Death By Mysteries Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7–10—Aphra Behn Connolly lives on a tropical island at the resort her father owns. She misses her friends and mother back home in South Carolina, and has no chance to meet cute guys. Then a mysterious boy named Adam Smith and his parents arrive unannounced and without a reservation. The chemistry between Aphra and Adam is undeniable. However, her dad warns her to stay away from him. Soon after the Smiths arrive, a guest turns up dead on the beach, strangled with her own bikini top. Aphra does a little investigation into the Smiths' background and is surprised by what she finds. Readers will realize from the onset that the Smiths are on the run from something. This is a quick read, but teens who have any sleuthing skills will be able to figure out what is happening about halfway through the book.—Shannon Seglin, Patrick Henry Library, Vienna, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Sixteen-year-old Aphra enjoys an enviable life at the secluded tropical island resort her father runs, but she aches for her mom, who left without explanation four years earlier, and for friends her age. Then the mysterious Smith family arrives, and Aphra feels a strong attraction to their cute teenage son, Adam, even as she struggles with her father’s strange reaction to the family. After a hotel guest is strangled on the beach, Aphra’s questions about the Smiths intensify: What are they hiding? Is there some connection to Aphra’s mom? Is Adam’s dad a killer? Gerber, the author of several novels in the S.A.S.S. series, spins a suspenseful mystery that makes the most of its lush setting. A few plot points feel shaky (such as the killer’s motive for the beach attack), but the vividly described, adrenaline-flooded chases through the rain forest, the romantic tension between Aphra and Adam, and the revelation of Aphra’s family’s secrets will capture mystery fans. The open ending promises further Aphra Connolly adventures. Grades 7-10. --Gillian Engberg

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 640L (What's this?)
  • Series: The Death by ... Mysteries
  • Mass Market Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books (May 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142411175
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142411179
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.7 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,545,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kate Coombs VINE VOICE on May 17, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I enjoyed Linda Gerber's SASS books, but I got an even bigger kick out of seeing what she could do when cut loose from the constraints of an already-established publisher's series to really show her stuff. The result, Death by Bikini, is a terrific read--literally a beach read, but also simply a fun, fast-paced suspense story with a strong central character: Aphra Behn Connolly. Aphra's father owns and manages a private resort on a remote tropical island. Aphra is used to meeting rock stars, movie stars, politicians, and other celebrities who are trying to get away from their lives and scandals, but the guest who really attracts her attention is a boy who says his name is Adam.

It isn't long before an aging rocker's girlfriend is found strangled on the beach (by her bikini ties, natch). Aphra is already trying to find out Adam's true identity and why he's in hiding with his parents. Now she must also figure out who killed the blonde in the bikini. Another mystery, why Aphra's mother has vanished from her life without an explanation, turns out to be related to the first two puzzles.

Aphra is a curious and likable teen. She's far from perfect, yet she basically has her feet on the ground. She's more of a Mandy Moore type than one of those Paris Hilton clones who have been popping up in a lot of YA fiction lately to bicker about shoes with their best friends. The last decade or two has yet to produce a really good contemporary replacement for Nancy Drew, but Aphra Connolly is definitely in the running. According to a note at the back of the book, Aphra will be back soon in her next adventure, Death by Latte. I look forward to catching up with Gerber's heroine in Seattle!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Sixteen-year-old Aphra Behn Connolly leads a life that most teenage girls only dream about. But she would trade it in for something a little more conventional and normal in a heartbeat. Sure, her days are filled with gallivanting around the tropical island she calls home, and peeking into the lives of the rich and famous who stay at her father's paradise-like resort; but things aren't all peachy keen. For one, her mother abandoned the family when Aphra was just twelve-years-old; and two, she has absolutely no contact with people her own ages. While her best friend, Cami, is back in South Carolina, gearing up for prom, dating boys, and working towards attaining her driver's license, Aphra is stuck all by her lonesome in paradise. Of course, things aren't that bad. Until a suspicious family arrives on the island to shake things up, that is.

Aphra Connolly isn't exposed to cute boys that often. As the youngest employee and resident of a fancy tropical resort, Aphra simply knows how to keep the visitors happy, and stay out of their business. But that doesn't mean that she doesn't know a cute boy when she sees one. And Seth Mulo is one cute boy. Unfortunately, he's accompanied by a suspicious man and woman who give Aphra "imposter" vibes. Apparently these are his parents. Aphra can see the resemblance, but it doesn't keep her from being suspicious. But Aphra is willing to toss her suspicions to the wayside to stay friendly with Seth - the first guy she has ever found herself completely drawn to. When one of the other visitors - a female - however, turns up dead, strangled by her bikini, Aphra knows that something sinister is at work. For four years this island has Aphra's home, and it has been anything but dangerous.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Anyone would love Aphra Behn's life. She lives on an isolated island, home to a cushy resort owned by her father. Her days are filled with attending to the guests, taking long swims in the ocean, and exploring the lush island. The only hitch? She's always alone.

So when the Smiths arrive with their teenage son, she's ecstatic. Maybe she can actually make a friend. But the circumstances surrounding the Smiths' arrival don't add up. Why did her dad put them in the villa under renovation? Why didn't he check them in? And how did they even get on the island? And when another guest washes up from the ocean dead, strangled by her bikini strings, Aphra is convinced that no one will be safe until the Smiths are off her island.

This suspenseful novel moves at lightening fast speed. Gerber cunningly draws readers into Aphra's paradise-esque life that anyone would envy. Her character is made intriguing by dropping sly hints about her past periodically throughout the book. But Gerber's delivery ensures that's not the only thing to keep readers going as the strange mystery unravels into something big that can't be resolved easily. Pay close attention, because this is one novel that doesn't slow down a bit, and will assuredly be the start of a fresh, fun, and exhilarating new mystery series for teens.
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I'm an avid mystery reader (Agatha Christie, Nancy Drew and A-Z Mysteries anyone?) and having not read a good mystery novel in over a month, I bumped this up on my ever-growing TBR pile. I wasn't disappointed, but it definitely wasn't what I was expecting.

The plot boils down to basically this: A girl is found dead on the beach of a private island resort owned by Aphra's father, seemingly choked by her bikini straps. Everyone believes the straps simply got tangled and that it was an accident. Aphra, however, gets the tingling sensation that there was some foul play. And so she turns to the rest of the guests on the resort, all of whom look like they have something to hide, and embarks on an investigative endeavor to find the dead girl's killer.

My thoughts in a nutshell:

Not so much a mystery. Despite how marketing worked it, I had the culprit figured out ten pages after the crime took place. I suspect any reader will too (especially rabid whudunnit fans like myself). The other components of the story, such as Aphra's relationship with Seth, her mother's enigmatic background and whereabouts, and the island life in general were much more compelling.

Snappy characters. This novel relies on its plot more than its cast to move forward, which reflects in sometimes more told-than-shown character interaction and development. I would've enjoyed seeing more of the Aphra/father dynamics or a bigger revelation out of Seth about his family. Exploring those characters would've made for a more rounded book, in my opinion. I'm not saying the characters were underdeveloped, because I could get a definite sense of personality from all of them, but I think a bit more of their lives could've been touched here and there.
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