Nickel lives life like a coin flip. At 12 he is a survivor of horrid abuse and a runaway. He lives by drug dealing, blackmailing online predators, and working as a private detective (but the first two are really to pay for the PI gig). He takes on a case of a missing sister of a pretty girl named Arrow. When he starts investigating the safe suburban streets she lived on he finds dark secrets hidden there and grown men more than willing to kill a 12 year old private eye to keep them.
Finally! A young adult noir that is actually true to noir. Too many pretenders have come and gone copying the dialogue style of noir but forgetting how to put the hard in hard boiled. Nickel Plated is a dark edgy book that doesn’t flinch from showing that sometimes the most horrible things happen to the most vulnerable people: kids. Nickel survived all that and learned how to navigate a world of crime to achieve a higher justice. He is an original anti-hero that needs a series of his own. He isn’t just a street smart gumshoe that noir has had far too many of, he has a genuine warmth and heart that comes from never wanting to see anyone else hurt the way he was. Besides having my favorite breakout new character of the year, the plot is fast paced and suspenseful, the characters appropriately scummy and menacing, and the dialogue is fresh and snappy without ever seeming like a send up of classic noir. This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea due to the violence, criminality, and a good deal of darkness, but I think readers should give it a chance.