Roberta "Robin" Robson is a girl with an attitude. An uncle has died and he has left his nursery in the small hamlet of Godmore to her parents. So, when her parents had decided to relocate to Godmore she was forced to leave behind her established life, and all of her friends, and now she's acting out.
Robin is also bored, and she is the polar opposite of her twin sister Anna, who is even tempered, happy in her new home, has a green thumb, and like their parents loves working in the nursery. Drama is on its way however. As she is hanging with local kids, Pete, his sister Deb, Greg, the over-age Thomas, and the gypsy wannabe Allison, the London cosmopolitans, siblings and summer slummers Judith and Richard Longstaff show up. In an effort to impress Judith, Pete pairs off with her only to end up at the business end of a local quarry in Holly Woods. The woods are also coincidently Robin's favorite hangout.
Meanwhile, there is some nutter going around and carving up cattle in the local countryside. How is this tied into Pete's accidental death, or what do so some local travelers, who have showed up in Godmore and who have set up camp in Holly Woods at the same time as the cattle mutilations and Pete's death.
Needing to shake things up a little, Robin gets a buzz cut, with flaming blue spikes, and decides to look into Pete's death and see if it really was an accident
Quickly, she starts an impressive list of suspects, like Ted Coombs, the local sleaze, drunken lout, and village cretin, or Thomas, who is a hot-head, a bigot, and who is spreading nasty rumors about Robin. Finding herself isolated from Anna and her new friends, all of whom are falling for Allison's pseudo-occult beliefs, something Robin scoffs at, she turns to Steff, the traveler who quickly becomes Robin's confidant.
On the positive side, that while this teen-age detective novel takes a while to get started, once it gets started, it's a fairly clever, interesting, and fast-paced story. It certainly held my attention, with its more than generous share of red herrings. So, while Robin is at the novel's beginning a pretty unsympathetic spoiled brat, as the novel rolls along, she becomes more sympathetic and interesting. This is especially so as Robin will learn the hard way that intolerance can lead to unwanted results, including the death of somebody very dear to her.
I was also taken by the book's cover. Great stuff, and yes, there is a hint that points to the identity of the killer buried in it. On the negative side, some characters never get farther than being much more than literary cardboard, with some of them just disappearing from the book altogether. And once again, as usual for a teen-age mystery, the teenagers parents everybody are never, or rarely, seen. I find this hard to believe when the young people start turning up dead. And the ending is weak, with once again the woman/girl having to depend on a man to save her, and the killer is a disappointing cliché.
Still, this book would make a pretty good movie, and all-in-all, I found "Dead Rite" by Jill Bennett to be worthy of three-and-a-half stars, but I'll round up. Out-of-print, and worth of reprinting.
For this site I have also reviewed the following young adult thrillers, those with a hyperlink are those I recommend the most.:
Abduction by Rodman Philbrick & Lynn Harnett
Alfred Hitchcock's Solve-Them-Yourself Mysteries by Robert Arthur
Being by Kevin Brooks
Bigfoot by Hal G. Evarts
The Body (Point Horror S.) by Carol Ellis
The Case Of The Somerville Secret by Robert Newman
The House Of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton
Jemma7729 by Phoebe Wray
Mystery Of Mordach Castle by William MacKellar
O'Shaughnessy's Boy by Lebbeus Mitchell
Project 17 by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Reef Of Death by Paul Zindel
The Road of the Dead (Push Fiction) by Kevin Brooks
Silent Witness by Carol Ellis
Skull Island by Lesley Sims
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Window by Ellis, Carol published by Point Mass Market Paperback
A UFO Has Landed by Milton Dank & Gloria Dank
Zodiac Chillers #1: Rage of Aquarius (Zodiac Chillers) by Carol Ellis
Zodiac Chillers #2: The Scorpio Society (Zodiac Chillers) by Carol Ellis
Zodiac Chillers #3: In Leo's Lair (Zodiac Chillers) by Carol Ellis
Zodiac Chillers #4: Twisted Taurus (Zodiac Chillers) by Ellen Steiber
Zodiac Chillers #5: Never Love A Libra by Vicki Kamida
Zodiac Chillers #6: Pisces Drowning by Ellen Steiber