Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann (2011, audio)
In a tiny little farming town in Montana, a teenage girl named Tiffany Quinn is missing. The whole town turns out to search for her, but their efforts are in vain. In a few months summer is over, school has started, and everything is back to normal. Almost. Kendall becomes concerned when her best friend Nico starts acting distant and preoccupied. He won't tell her why. And then suddenly one day he disappears too. Even when the searches stop, Kendall hears Nico's voice. Literally. It's coming from the old battered desk where he used to sit, and where Tiffany Quinn sat before him.
I expected this to be really creepy (I mean, look at the cover!) but it really never was. It is the kind of stuff horror movies are made of, and there is a pretty horrific scene near the end, but it was never spine-tingling. And even the potentially scary parts only come late in the book.
Even though it didn't scare me, I still liked it. My favorite part was the setting. The town of Cryer's Cross was even smaller than the town where I grew up in Maine, and I can relate to how everyone had known everyone else for their whole lives. They are suspicious of outsiders too - when Jacian and Marlena move to town so soon after Tiffany's disappearance, Jacian becomes a suspect right away. But even in this tiny town there are secrets and it was fun seeing the story unfold.
Kendall was a great character, and her OCD made her just quirky enough while also being useful to the plot. Jacian is sullen and cranky, a skilled soccer player at his old school in Arizona who hasn't taken well to the move to this small town with barely enough kids for a team. The relationship between Kendall and Jacian was compelling, with a good dose of romantic tension building throughout the novel.
Although this book wasn't what I thought it would be, I ended up liking it anyhow. I listened to the audio version, the narrator perfectly capturing the voice of the teenaged protagonist. Listening to Cryer's Cross I was able to suspend reality and immerse myself in the fun, though sad, story.