Smart by Kim Slater

It all starts when Kieran finds a body in the river. It’s a local homeless man, Colin, whom police believe simply fell in the river and drowned, though really, they don’t care what has happened to him. But Kieran cares. He believes the homeless man was murdered, and he is adamant that he is going to solve the mystery. Kieran goes about questioning Colin’s fellow homeless folk regarding the sorts of people Colin associated with, sketching in his notebook and slowly piecing together the evidence. But Kieran would never have guessed that his own horrible home life could become entwined with the case of a murdered homeless man.

Smart tackles many issues very relevant to today’s society. Domestic violence, drug trafficking, homelessness, bullying and Autism are all major subjects, making this an interesting book to discuss with young adults. While there is much hope here, ultimately it is a very troubling novel; I think older readers looking to move away from the popular, other-worldly books filling the shelves at the moment will find this a thought-provoking read. For ages 14 and up.

Katherine Dretzke is a bookseller at Readings Hawthorn.