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Blundell, author of Star Wars novelizations, turns out a taut, noirish mystery/coming-of-age story set in 1947; it's easy to picture it as a film starring Lana Turner, who is mentioned in these pages. When first met, 15-year-old Evie and her best friend are buying chocolate cigarettes to practice smoking. Evie sheds that innocence on a trip to Florida, where her stepfather, Joe, back from the war in Europe, abruptly takes her and her beautiful mother, Beverly, and where Evie falls in love with glamorous Peter, an army buddy whom Joe is none too happy to see. But after a boating accident results in a suspicious death and an inquest, Evie is forced to revisit her romance with Peter and her relationships with Joe and her mother, and to consider that her assumptions about all three may have been wrong from the beginning. Blundell throws Evie's inexperience into high relief with slangy, retro dialogue: Peter calls Evie "pussycat"; Beverly says her first husband "kicked through love like it was dust and he kept on walking." Readers can taste Evie's alienation and her yearning; it's a stylish, addictive brew. Ages 12-up. (Nov.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.