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Deadly Cool

Deadly Cool

4.5 97
by Gemma Halliday

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First I find out that my boyfriend is cheating on me. Then he’s pegged as the #1 suspect in a murder. And now he’s depending on me to clear his name. Seriously?

As much as I wouldn’t mind watching him squirm, I know that he’s innocent. So I’m brushing off my previously untapped detective skills and getting down to business.


First I find out that my boyfriend is cheating on me. Then he’s pegged as the #1 suspect in a murder. And now he’s depending on me to clear his name. Seriously?

As much as I wouldn’t mind watching him squirm, I know that he’s innocent. So I’m brushing off my previously untapped detective skills and getting down to business. But I keep tripping over dead bodies and I’m still no closer to figuring out who did it. And what’s worse: all signs seem to point to me as the killer’s next victim.

I really need to pick a better boyfriend next time.

Editorial Reviews

C.C. Hunter
“Gemma Halliday delivers a fun, sassy read that has you turning pages so fast, you’ll be breathless.”
“Halliday has her finger on the pulse of high-schoolers, whether goth, jock, prude, or computer nerd. With red herrings aplenty and a wicked pace, this relentlessly pulls the reader along to an explosive conclusion.”
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
“Halliday effectively combines a murder mystery with daily high school drama. Sharp humor is layered throughout the novel (fans of Veronica Mars will likely appreciate this one).”
VOYA - Mark Letcher
Hartley is having what can only be described as an extremely bad day. First, she discovers that her boyfriend is sneaking around with Courtney, the supposedly chaste captain of the Color Guard, a discovery that everyone else in her Silicon Valley high school has apparently already made. Later, when she goes to confront her boyfriend about the affair, she discovers the body of that same Color Guard virgin in his closet, strangled with a pair of iPod earbuds. With that, Hartley quickly becomes immersed in the questions of who killed Courtney, and did her (now ex-) boyfriend do it. If not him, then who? With the help of her best friend, and the mysterious bad boy/school paper's editor, Hartley begins to investigate. After another Color Guard member is killed, Hartley's investigation intensifies, as does the danger to her own life. Halliday's first book for teen audiences effectively combines a murder mystery with daily high school drama. Hartley is a believable heroine, one who does not want to be thrust into the role she is playing, and the dialogue is authentic, without dragging on the fast-moving plot. Some of the mentions of popular products and stores, however, date the book. While readers may peg the killer early, that does not detract from the way the mystery unfolds, or the sharp humor that is layered throughout the novel (fans of Veronica Mars will likely appreciate this one). Some discussions of sex make this more appropriate for older readers. Reviewer: Mark Letcher
Kirkus Reviews

In this light comedy/murder mystery, 16-year-old Hartley tries to prove that her ex-boyfriend didn't kill her rival.

The emphasis stays on comedy with spikes of suspense as Hartley bounces from rage against boyfriend Josh and his not-so-secret squeeze Courtney to screaming shock when she finds Courtney's dead body in Josh's closet. Despite appearances, she's sure he's innocent and decides to prove it, no matter how ill-equipped she may be to do so. She teams up with Chase, a hunky, goth-type school journalist who looks a bit suspicious himself. Hartley breezily defies her mother and sneaks out of her house to meet strangers in the middle of the night, even after she literally stumbles over a second murder victim. Not surprisingly, eventually she finds herself in danger. Halliday keeps the mood light and tries to balance the comedy and suspense. Comedy easily wins the battle, but suspense often breaks into this fairly standard murder mystery. The author portrays Hartley as a bit of a bubble brain, however, indulging in omigod freakouts with best friend Sam at every turn of events and constantly acting on impulse, quipping her way through high-school suspects until she finds the major clue in the case. It's fine for an audience more interested in light entertainment than discerning heft.

Light indeed, but merry and often suspenseful. A pleasant, funny chick-lit mystery.(Mystery. 12 & up)

School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Hartley can't believe her bad luck. First, she hears rumors that her boyfriend, Josh, is cheating on her with Courtney Cline, a member of the abstinence-only Color Guard. Second, she finds an empty condom wrapper in his locker—maybe it doesn't mean anything, right? Finally, and this is the biggie, after she goes over to Josh's house to confront him, she finds Courtney dead in his closet, strangled by her own iPod earbuds. So, what's a jilted and traumatized girl to do? Prove her ex-boyfriend's innocence, of course. When Hartley and her best friend set out to discover who murdered the popular teen, they find themselves in more danger than they bargained for. After Hartley stumbles upon another murdered Color Guard member, she begins to suspect that she might be next on the killer's hit list. Along the way she meets Chase, the bad-boy editor of Herbert Hoover High's online newspaper, who joins her in her quest—but is the brooding James Dean look-alike everything he says he is or just a killer in disguise? The cliff-hanger ending sets the book up as the first in a series. This fun and outrageous mystery is a perfect mix of humor and horror that will have readers laughing while they try to figure out "whodunit."—Traci Glass, Eugene Public Library, OR

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

What People are Saying About This

C.C. Hunter
“Gemma Halliday delivers a fun, sassy read that has you turning pages so fast, you’ll be breathless.”

Meet the Author

When Gemma Halliday was sixteen she wanted to be either a rock star or Marilyn Monroe. Instead, she ended up working as a film extra, a teddy bear importer, a department store administrator, a preschool teacher, a temporary-tattoo artist, and a 900-number psychic before settling on the career of author. Since then, her books have been published in several countries, optioned for television, and have won lots of cool, shiny trophies, including a National Readers' Choice Award and three RITA nominations. Gemma now lives in the San Francisco Bay area, where she loves watching reality TV shows, eating takeout pizza, and shoe shopping. She is also the author of Deadly Cool.

Customer Reviews

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Deadly Cool 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 97 reviews.
TheMochaLatte More than 1 year ago
Could this day get any worse? First, Hartley discovers a condom wrapper in boyfriend Josh's locker-they aren't sexually active. Then she hears rumours floating around that he's 'effing' Courtney from the Color Guard Squad. Taking matters into her own hands, she and best friend Sam head over to Josh's to confront him and get some answers. However, what they discover is far worse. Hartley, while breaking into Josh's bedroom, discovers Courtney's dead body in his closet-strangled to death with white Ipod earbuds. All the fingers quickly point to Josh and he becomes the prime suspect, but Hartley knows better. Josh may be a no-good cheating jerk but he's not a murder. Ready to prove his innocence, Hartley teams up with Sam and gorgeous goth photographer and editor of the newspaper Chase. The best way to describe Gemma Halliday's Deadly Cool is "a wonderfully entertaining teen murder mystery with a perfect dose of humour". I found Gemma Halliday's voice for Hartley and her best friend Sam absolutely hilarious. They both had a habit of censoring themselves with "effing" and various other words, which made me giggle quite a bit. Conversation between the characters resembled typical high school talk and gossip. It wasn't sugar coated and was raw to the teenage bone. The events leading up to Hartley's discovery of Courtney's body truly resembled that of a girl who fained ignorance to her boyfriend's deception despite the fact that she clearly doubted his innocence. Hartley was a difficult character to get used to reading. Despite her edgy personality, I found myself disliking her daftness and eagerness to leap before looking. As for her friend Sam, I felt like readers weren't given much of an opportunity to get to know her. She felt like a blank void and I found myself knowing more about dis-interesting characters like Kaylee and Shiloh. Chase was an interesting addition and I liked how his role grew from beginning to end. Deadly Cool definitely kept me on my feet. I had a very hard time trying to pin point who the murderer was, kudos to Gemma. The mystery, of course, was present from beginning to end but there was also a very small sliver of romance that definitely didn't outshine the plot's purpose. The cover was complimentary to the novel; beautiful and eye catching. As I crawled towards Hartley's discovery of the body, I began to realise what the cover image depicted. From what I presume it is Hartley's view when discovering Courtney's dead body. It's very eerie now that I think of it but it's still very beautiful and attention grabbing. Deadly Cool is a recommended read for young adults who need a mystery fix with a tiny bit of teenage drama.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm big on mysteries, and when I found out that this murder takes place in a highschool setting, I was super happy. And when I actually read it? OH. MY. GOSH. Hartley is completely relatable. If you found your boyfriend's condom wrapper, you'd react the same way she would, and you'd react the same way to finding bodies. She's super sarcastic and funny, and her lines are so witty and perfect. I absolutely adore everything about this book. If you like murder, or just funny teenage antics, this is the book for you.
Andreat78 More than 1 year ago
I'm smiling right now. I know, you can't see me. But trust me, I am. The reason for the big smile? This book, Deadly Cool. Based on the cover, which I adore, and the synopsis, you might think Deadly Cool to be a dark, serious book. And I'll admit, there are aspects to the book that are dark and serious. Such as, cheating boyfriends, murder, and a killer on the loose. But author Gemma Halliday told the story with a droll, quick-witted tone that absolutely knocked the ball out of the park. I'll admit, it helps that Deadly Cool was exactly the type of book I was in the mood for. Young Adult, contemporary, non-paranormal was what the reading-doctor ordered. I knew I was in for a delicious treat when I read the opening lines: "There are three things you never want to find in your boyfriend's locker: a sweaty jockstrap,a D minus on last week's history test, and an empty condom wrapper. Lucky me, I'd hit the trifecta." And, thankfully, the entire book was able to maintain that tone. It was packed full with witty dialogue and laugh-out-loud situations. Deadly Cool has an easy to read, conversational tone. I felt like I was a participant in the action. Halliday did an immense job of lending main character, Hartley, and the other teens, non-irritating, engaging voices. Well, except for a couple of the girls. But they were supposed to be irritating! There wasn't a single character in the story that wasn't spot-on, well written. The cheating boyfriend, Josh, is shockingly likeable. Like Hartley, I knew I should despise him, but I couldn't help feeling sorry for the poor guy. I suppose it helps that he is descibed as looking very much like Zac Efron. And as much as I adore Josh, I have a thing for unconventional book guys. Like Chase, Hartley's partner in crime solving. He's cool, wears black-on-black-on-black a lot, has messy hair and sly comebacks. Perfect. Deadly Cool was a pleasant surprise. I thought I would most likely enjoy it. I loved it. I read within a few hours time, dying to know who did the deed. This book was a fun, breezy read. A stand-alone that could easily be a series. And, Wow, I hope Halliday does give us more Hartley, soon! Favorite Quote: "Whether it was the chamomile or the good long cry or the fact that Chase was once again speaking to me, I had a little spring in my step as I walked to second period, only five minutes late. I might be a leper, but I was a leper with a clue." * I received Deadly Cool from Harper Teen, in exchange for an honest review. *
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best book ever and it has suspense comedy and drama. Has to be bought so dont wait just buy
BooksAhoy More than 1 year ago
This was a great mystery book!! I am a huge fan of mystery books and this certaintly does mystery books justice. First of all the mystery itself was really good. I had no idea who the killer was and it's certaintly a surprise when you find out. Every chapter keeps you wanting more and more to find out whodunit. I also love the relationships between all the characters and I think it kept the book feeling like a teenage book. The plot, charcters, and overall book was great! I can't wait to read more from Gemma Halliday. I also absolutely LOVE the cover!!!! :) PS: Be on the lookout for the second book Social Suicide!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What does imk srand for
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good book to sit back and enjoy reading. I would recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please come!dtt res 3 and st res 4!-Blazin '-'
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read some intense mysteries previously, so I really enjoyed this easy, breezy murder mystery! It kept your attention and surprised you with the murderer. Super, great read!
Naj More than 1 year ago
Deadly Cool was one of those really talked about books of 2012. It was something that was buzzing all around the book blogging community and being part of that community it was hard not to get caught into the web of book buzz. From the looks of the cover itself it looked a lot more mature but the contents weren’t.  Where do I start… ah yes. Let’s start with the plot of the book. The book was about these two teen girls finding a dead body of another teen girl in the room of a teen boy. Then the two teen girls set out to figure out who the killer is to save the name of the teen boy. Yeah, original right? (sarcasm intended). It may be kind of new in the genre. But it isn’t in a bigger scale. What is new now-a-days? All the new ideas are well, not exactly new.   The plot didn’t do much for me. It was light, extremely predictable and well, not very ‘wow’. But good news for parents, this book is very clean. There was minimal swearing, not much blood and not really much to go around in the romance department. So, this is a safe read for you teens.   As for the writing style, like I said above, it was clean. The swearing have been censored, the descriptions, inner monologues were all adequate to the genre. The characters on the other hand, didn’t bother me much. They can be obnoxious at times, but other than that. I think they’re pretty great characters to follow.  Overall, Deadly Cool was an interesting read. I don’t think I’ll be reading the next two books in the trilogy. But the book was still an enjoyable read with a predictable plot, and characters you’ll like. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She sits down in her red slu<_tty dress and smiles at Zero
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks in. His shaggy blond hair gets blown into his emerald green eyes and he brushes it out of his face. "Anyone here?"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*smirks and then walks around and gracefully climbs up the pole and then wraps her legs on the pole and bent down so her legs are holding her up and she runs her hands along her body and her bo<_>obs then she twirled down the pole*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Goes to "alone" res 1
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Comes in
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If u see this my cousin emma said to o to ur guys book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pads in
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I &heart pie
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Skip in. listening to stroblelights on her ipod by krewella. #feelinghappywaitwhyamihashtaggingthisainttwitteroris?C: