All this to say: Close, Dark Eyes. Very close, but not quite.
In many ways, Dark Eyes is similar to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and I think it is probably an apt comparison. Wallis Stoneman has a lot of the same qualities as Lisbeth Salander, and Richter’s plot is comparable to Larsson’s. Fans of of one book will enjoy the other, I think.
Where Dark Eyes failed was in its unputdownableness, or lack thereof. William Richter’s great “plot twist” was well…extremely predictible, and though the action got intense, Richter’s prose was never fully engaging. I think “heavy” is the word I’m looking for to describe the style Dark Eyes was written in—not “dense” or “dark”. Richter’s words settled to the bottom and created a layer of thoughts that were all too easy to push aside and forget. I think with a thriller like Dark Eyes, you need edgy, stacatto prose, not richly detailed prose.
But, as far as YA debuts go, I’m pretty impressed with William Richter and Dark Eyes. The story was good, and I was very much engaged throughout.
I was very satisfied, also, with the characters—Wallis, her mother, Tevin, the detectives—were superb. They were all very real and likeable, their stories and motivations intertwined perfectly, and, as a whole, Richter’s cast of characters seemed to be well-executed and thought out.
This is a good book for anyone who enjoys fast-paced mystery/thrillers and doesn’t mind a slightly juvenile take on that genre. Personally, I might have been slightly off-put by the more simplistic approach (shouldn’t have made the Dragon Tattoo comparison!), but Dark Eyes was hardly awful. I enjoyed reading it, and I’d read it again if given the chance.