After the explosive ending of Trouble is a Friend of Mine, life has settled down for Zoe -- so much so, she may have achieved "normalcy." Her grades are good, she's got a nice job, she's dating the backup QB (maybe not the brightest guy, but he's nice), and even has a couple of friends. The biggest stress in her life is the SATs just around the corner (she's over-prepared but doesn't believe it). Her mother's got a new live-in boyfriend, and other than all the health food he's insisting they eat, things are good on that front, too -- better than they've been in years.
Which means, it's time for Digby to come back to town and muck everything up. And boy howdy, he does a great job of that.He's got a lead on his missing sister, and he wants Zoe to help. Oh, and he's pretty sure there's a drug ring afoot at her school, and he might as well take that out while he's at it.
The drug story runs just like you'd think it would -- maybe a bit too conventionally, really. But it does it's job -- giving Digby, Zoe and the rest an easier target than the quest for his sister. And is good for enough laughs and tension that it feels like more than just a distraction from the "real" story.
That story, the hunt for clues to his sister's fate is huge. We learn so much more than we did in the first novel -- and find out that so much that Digby thought he knew wasn't quite right. In the end, this task feels out of the reach and capabilities of these two -- even if it's inevitable that they'll get somewhere that the police, FBI, and other professionals never did.
I may not have done myself a favor listening to this so soon after the first novel -- I may have liked it better with a cool-down period. Still, I just don't think it's as good. Which is strange, the story's more focused, there's less stage-setting needed -- we know almost everyone already, the situation is clear, etc. But the story wasn't as gripping, I kept waiting for something to happen -- and when it did, it seemed too easy. Plus, the whole "high school story" thing -- romantic relationships, etc. -- was more significant to this book. None of this made it a bad book, just a "less-good" one. Still, plenty of fun, and I really want to get the sequel, which can't be a bad thing, can it?
Nevertheless -- I enjoyed the novel (and McInerney is a big part of that) -- I laughed, I had fun, I enjoyed the tension, and might have even gotten wrapped up in the emotional moments. A strong sequel that does an admirable job of setting up a sure-to-be knockout final book in the trilogy.