Tokyo Heist by Diana Renn

Violet is spending the summer with her dad in Seattle. A whole summer away from her mother who will be working on a fellowship in Rome. After some serious "irresponsible dad" antics, she finds her way to his art show. Some "awkward dad" introductions occur, and then she meets the Yamadas. They are big fans of her father's work, and have the pocketbook to back it up. They are owners of a large corporation in Japan, and tell Violet of the tragic art theft that has befallen them: the loss of three van Gogh sketches.

She's hooked. This smells like a mystery! Next, the Yamadas invite both Violet and her father to spend the summer in Japan! He will be working on a commissioned mural, and she will be helping in the museum. Can this really be happening? The first thing Violet wants to do is share the news with her best friend/ crush Edge. Since she can't do that, she takes a page from her manga-in-progress heroine Kimono Girl, and starts looking for clues. So far the suspects include her dad's girlfriend Skye, the gallery owner Margo, and her assistant Julian. They all knew about the art and the theft.

Edge and Violet are on the case. They follow Skye around one day, filming her for evidence. While they eventually come to realize she's not a real suspect, they do get footage of some real creeps (also following her). Not to mention the broken glass at her dad's place. She just knows they are related. Then she has a fight with Edge, and it seems like things between them are just as broken. How can she keep her feelings for him a secret, but still be his friend?

Violet puts her energy into Japan instead. An attack on Julian makes everything more complicated. The FBI is on the case, and it seems the yakuza (read Japanese mafia) are making threats on the Yamada family. They want the painting created from the sketches, the one Mr. Yamada's brother hid before he died. This is way bigger than just a case of stolen art. It seems hopeless, but Violet reunites with her bestie Reika (also summering in Japan), and they resolve to find the lost painting.

She stumbles on more clues while working for the Yamadas in their gallery archives. She and Reika are getting closer and closer to discovering what really happened all those years ago. This mystery with unfolds with twists and turns, and a bit of international flair. Fans of anime, manga, and Japanese culture will be especially entertained. Highly recommended!
"'There might be a clue,' I say. 'Kenji mentioned something about a picture of ayu. That's a river trout, I think.'
'Right.' Reika nods. 'A freshwater delicacy. They're popular to eat in the summer.'
'Okay, so Tomonori Yamada was an amateur artist, and when they found his body on the tracks, the only thing in his briefcase was a drawing he did, showing two ayu. They thought it was a clue as to why he killed himself, like he couldn't live because he couldn't be an artist. But you know what? I don't think he really killed himself. Someone could have pushed him off that platform, and taken his shoes and socks off to make it look like a suicide," (Renn pg. 145, 2012).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:

Heist Society  by Ally Carter (Heist Society, Book 1)
The Grimm Legacy by Polly Schulman
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett

Renn, Diana. (2012). Tokyo Heist. New York: Viking.

Harbinger by Sara Etienne

Faye can't believe her father made her come out to this horrible school. It's practically an institution, and she isn't crazy. At least, she doesn't think so? With the visions of drowning getting worse, she isn't really sure anymore.

Now she's stuck here at Holbrook Academy. They should just call it "Academy for Deliquents and Crazies" as far as she's concerned. Maybe she belongs here, but she knows that nothing this Dr. Mordoch does is going to help. Faye isn't like the others. She wants it to all be in her head, but when she looks into people's eyes she can see right into their secrets.

Her first night in the Academy, she sneaks out the window. The room is stifling like a cage. The drugs they gave her to sleep are pulling at her brain, making everything fuzzy. She manages to make her way down to the courtyard (avoiding security) and goes exploring. The closer she gets to the Compass Rose on the cliff, the more it seems like there is music playing. It gets louder, sounding somehow familiar. Are those people in the distance...dancing? Seven people around a bonfire?

Faye awakes on the edge of the roof...not good. The other "students" are arriving, and she makes her way back to her room. There is a scuffle, and she is caught. Not before, however, she makes her way back to the spot in the woods, and discovers six statues. Six, not seven.

After it becomes apparent that this school is a barely concealed prison, the group she's assigned to becomes a sort of family. Their bond is strengthened with their secret. Each morning they wake with red clay covering their hands, with no recollection of how it got there. The mystery deepens when they sneak out one night to explore the Compass Rose once again. What they find there disturbs them deeply. It brings Faye and Kel closer together in a way that she never believed possible, but it also threatens to tear them apart. It brings a darkness that threatens everyone. The secret of the island, and the key to the Harbinger is a twist you won't believe. As the mystery unfolds, each piece falls into place at just the right moment.

I'm one of those people who guesses the ending way before it happens, and this had me going for a while. It had plenty of foreshadowing, but it was a very satisfying read. Equal parts mythology and mystery, this is a great first effort for Etienne.
"I closed my eyes and kissed him back. But I was falling too fast. I couldn't stop. Images swarmed past me. Dizziness tried to pull me under and suddenly the world went dark. I tried to pull away from Kel's grip, but he wasn't there anymore. It was like what'd happened with Dr. Mordoch. Blurry shadows morphed until they finally solidified into a scene in front of me.
I was running. Dodging past branches and tree trucks. Up ahead, a girl fled through the dark forest.
I can't lose her.
The thought wasn't mine. I knew it was Kel's, the same way I'd known his smell and his taste. His thrill of adrenaline surged into me," (Etienne pg. 174, 2012).

If you liked this, check out:

Etienne, Sara W. (2012). Harbinger. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.