Reis Martin Undercover
by Joyce Marcotte

"He was going to have to be more on guard or he was going to blow the whole possibility of completing his mission here."

Reis is a protagonist that one doesn’t see every day. He’s a young adult with autism spectrum disorder. While he is physically fit and exceptionally intelligent, his social skills are sorely lacking. Realizing this, he wonders if he’s really the right person to leave his home in Alabama and go undercover in a Florida high school to root out a drug problem. Since the request comes from a lifelong friend who’s now the sheriff in that community, however, Reis accepts the challenge. What follows is an involving tale with a major thread and minor subplots.

As Reis becomes immersed in the everyday activities of the school, ostensibly to find out how, where, and from whom drugs are coming in, he also becomes involved with different students who have problems of their own. From physical altercations to unsanctioned parties, accidents, hospital stays, and more, Reis becomes caught up in the lives of those he’s supposed to be watching. Before the tale has ended, crimes have been uncovered, lives have been lost, and Reis’s view of his world has been affected unalterably.

The pace is swift in author Marcotte’s chronicle. Her prose is concise, easy to read, and focuses more on substance than style. She does a good job of interweaving the trials and tribulations of different students with the overall search for the drug suppliers. Contemporary teen problems are addressed with straightforwardness and fit appropriately within the confines of the story. Young adults will likely be attracted to this story as it portrays them as flesh and blood individuals rather than conventional stereotypes. A big surprise awaits readers at the end of this novel, as well as a hint at what well may follow.

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