The Naturals - Jennifer Lynn Barnes
We've all heard of Quantico, VA, the small town that is home to the FBI Academy, Laboratory, NCIS,  and so on. What most of us don't know is that it's also home to a secret training ground for teenagers who are so intuitively good at profiling and other forensically-inclined psychological skills that they're described as "Natural." Two FBI agents and one retired Marine run this program and house, using the teens to crack cold cases. Sharpening their skills in a safe environment, so that when the time is ripe, they'll be Super Agents.

The Naturals opens with Cassie -- being raised by her grandmother while her father's off somewhere with the Armed Services. She's seventeen and can read people like a Richard Scarry book, which makes her a great small diner waitress. Until she's given the chance to join program and she jumps at it, becoming the fifth member of the team.

Cassie jumps into the training, and picks things up quickly.  I really enjoyed reading those scenes -- she and Dean, the other profiler, sound so much like  Will Graham from NBC's Hannibal that I really got into it. Outside Quantico, things are afoot that will keep this from being all training and cold cases -- and I bet, for those who survive, the next books will also pretty fresh cases, too.

Walking into a two-guy, two-gal house -- and, apparently, being more attractive than she's aware -- Cassie complicates things.  Soon she's part of at least one Romantic Polygon.  It's not too painful at the moment, but I could see it overtaking things in a book or two.  It's marketed as YA, so it was likely anyway -- still, you should know it's out there.

None of the characters -- including Cassie -- are much more than groupings of characteristics and tics at this point, but I'd be willing to guess that they could be within another book or two.  For now, they're good enough for what the book is. It really is a fun read

A fast, fun read with just enough suspense to keep you moving, but not as much as you'd get in a Thomas Harris or  Val McDermid psychological thriller -- a great way to cut your teeth on the subgenre.  I'll come back for more -- and I'll pass it off to my daughter, who will likely eat it up.
Thanks to DanySpike for the blogpost that convinced me to give this one a try. I owe ya one.