Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco
by Richie Narvaez
About Holly Hernandez and the
Death of Disco
Young Adult Cozy Mystery Grade Level: 10 - 12
1st in Series Publisher: Pinata Books (May 31, 2020)
Paperback: 248 pages
ISBN-10: 1558859020 ISBN-13: 978-1558859029
Digital Publisher: Arte Público Press (June 22, 2020) Print Length: 255 pages
Holly Hernandez, voted “Miss Bright of ’79” and valedictorian at her previous school, is excited to start fresh at Flatbush Technical High School, one of the most competitive public schools in New York City. She’ll be one of thousands; anonymous. But her dreams of a normal school life disappear when her mother, a homicide detective, has to investigate the murder of Mr. Friedman, the social studies teacher.
One of her classmates, Xander Herrera, quickly becomes the primary suspect. The tall, awkward boy is socially inept, but Holly doesn’t think he’s a murderer. She is intent on exonerating him—but he wants nothing to do with her. To Xander, Holly is the overly enthusiastic student who always sits in the front row and answers all the teachers’ questions—correctly. He hates perky people!
Eventually cleared of the crime, Xander is determined to find the killer before Holly. As they race to solve the case, their separate investigations lead to a slew of suspects, including another teacher seen arguing with Friedman and a mysterious person named Steve who met with him several times before his death. Could it have been a disgruntled student? Ultimately, a trophy for a disco-dancing contest leads the intrepid young detectives to the Mission Venus nightclub and a murderer intent on killing again,
Minutes ago, Holly had been in metal shop, concentrating on not breaking her tool bit on a lathe. Then a security guard had walked briskly into the shop and, without even stopping to tell Mr. Feeny why he was there, walked up to her and said, “Holly, your mother wants to make sure you’re safe.”
Instantly, she knew what the loud alarms and the warning to stay in class had been for. In the hallway was a police officer she recognized, Wojciehowicz, and she knew that she was right.
“Hello, Wojo,” she said. “What’s going on?”
“Hey there, Holly. Your mom, uh, she just wants to make sure you’re safe.”
Wojo led her to another floor, and she could see police and security gathered in front of a teacher’s office. He stopped her down the hall from the commotion.
“Just wait here,” Wojo said. “Your mother’ll be out in a minute.”
Holly stood by herself in the hallway, watching the office doorway, trying to imagine what was happening. Since her mother was there, that meant a homicide had been committed. On school grounds.
People were rushing in and out of the office. There was Principal Schnitger in a daze. She clutched her stomach with one hand and covered her mouth with the other. The head of security was there, too (Licata was his name), complaining about the mess he would have to clean up.
This only intrigued Holly more. She took a step closer to the door. No one was paying attention to her.
Step by step, before she knew it, she was at the door. People pushed past her. And then she was inside the office. All too busy doing their jobs, no one bothered to ask why she was there.
At a desk at one end of a room, a body was slumped for‐ ward. The nameplate read: “Mr. Friedman.” Her Social Studies teacher.
Holly looked at the body, focused on it. Then she looked around, concentrating on what was in the office, behind the desk, on the wall. Mr. Friedman had three degrees: Social Studies, English, Education. There were some trophies, one for bowling, one with the figure of a man and woman on top. He loved sports, but baseball in particular, it seemed, the Yankees even more particularly. He had a family, a wife, three daughters.
“Holly?” Her mother, who had been standing by the desk, grabbed her by the arm and pulled her into the hallway.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
About Richie Narvaez
Richie Narvaez is author of the award-winning collection Roachkiller and Other Stories and the gentrification thriller Hipster Death Rattle. His latest novel is the historical YA mystery Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco.