What We Saw: A Thriller

What We Saw: A Thriller
Age Range
Release Date
September 06, 2022
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A chilling murder mystery lies at the heart of this page-turning thriller about a missing teacher, small town secrets, and turbulent tween friendships from master of middle grade horror Mary Downing Hahn.
When best friends Abbi and Skylar witness a clandestine meeting between a mysterious woman and someone in a dark van, they're thrilled. Finally, a mystery to spice up the summer!

Who could these people be? Why are they meeting? Are they spies? Criminals? The two girls are determined to find out. But then a local woman goes missing and is found dead in the woods. And Abbi and Skylar realize that their detective work could hold the keys to solving her murder. Suddenly, sleuthing isn't so fun anymore.

As tensions rise and their friendship frays, the girls find themselves in increasing danger, and must choose between keeping a secret or exposing a life-altering truth.

Editor review

1 review
Murder Mystery for Tweens
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Abbi and Skylar are best friends who want some excitement in their summer. On a blisteringly hot day, Skylar proposes biking three miles to the edge of town instead of the same old trip to the pool, mall, or library. It's only three miles, but takes a lot of effort, and the area where they end up isn't the most pleasant. They run into kids from their school, Jason and Carter, who aren't very pleasant, either. It is somehow exciting, though; they see what looks to be a woman and man having a clandestine encounter, with the woman parking her car, getting into the man's vehicle, and taking off, they find a treehouse in the woods, and they hear about a house where some of the high school kids party and smoke marijuana. Unfortunately, the see Skylar's brother, Rob, get drugs from Jason and Carter. This is almost enough to warn them off, but not quite. They visit a couple of times, and once see the man and woman argue. The woman runs into the woods, and the man drives off. The girls find these two interesting, and have looked at them the way they used to look at their neighbors when they pretended to investigate mysteries, so take some photos and videos of the two and their vehicles. When they come back later, the woman's car is still there, and her purse and phone are still inside. When Abbi's art teacher, Ms. Sullivan, goes missing, the girls have an awful feeling that she was the woman they saw. She was, and they also feel that their language arts teacher, Mr. Boyce, might have been the man she was meeting, since he and his wife seemed out of sorts at the pool. Unfortunately, they don't make this connection until after they go to his house to ask if they should go to the police, and even give him the phone with the pictures! After they get the phone back and the pictures have been deleted, they know they need to go to the police, especially when their teacher is found dead. The police take them seriously and gather their evidence, and Abbi's mother says she shouldn't hang out with Skylar any more. The girls can't leave well enough alone, and eventually connect Jason and Carter to parts of the crime. Will they be able to get the help they need from adults before the murderer finds them?
Good Points
It's a hot summer day and it's soooooo boring! So of COURSE you jump on your bike with your best friend and go to a seedy part of town to spy on strangers. Hahn changes gears a bit from her ghost stories and pens an awesome realistically scary book that instantly transported me to a small, dusty town in the summer time. Abbi's mother works, and Skylar's mother is supposed to keep tabs on the two girls, but they're good about telling the adults what they want to hear. Abbi's mother is dating a really nice guy, and while this isn't essential to the story, it added a nice layer to Abbi's life. The three go out to dinner, get ice cream, and he's very supportive when all of the investigations start. The fact that it is a teacher the girls know who gets murdered is weirdly perfect. When you think about it, cozy mysteries always kill off people in the town who are somewhat sympathetic! There is a lot of real danger, with Jason and Carter having fallen into a really bad crowd and selling drugs because they need the money. This reminded me of some of Joan Lowery Nixon's 1990s titles. It's an upper middle grade title that will definitely deliver a frisson of danger!

This seemed both a little cheesy and also very dangerous, and as a parent I was a little appalled... but it's absolutely perfect for tween readers. We're biking to the edge of town without water? What is Skylar's mother thinking? How can she not know that Rob is smoking weed? And yet, as an almost thirteen year old, I was biking all over town with friends. Since my students are always looking for murder mysteries, they are going to love this just as much as this made me uncomfortable!

This was an interesting new path for Hahn, who normally does ghost stories. Since the Joan Lowry Nixon titles from the 1990s are a bit dated, it's great to see some new murder mysteries aimed at tweens. I'm going to have to buy at least two copies, and fans of April Henry are going to adore this one.
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