"Special Topics in Calamity Physics" by Marisha Pessl

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How does one plan a book like this? To set a murder mystery (we have no idea it's a murder mystery except for some prescient comments along the way, until well into the story) in a clever high schooler's senior year, and make her not only solve the mystery, but suffer abandonment as a result! This exceedingly clever piece contains multiple cultural references on every page, most of them actually valid. We have a startlingly erudite high school senior, who falls in with a clique of charismatic and clever classmates and who is able to complete her senior year without benefit of parents.
The language in this fresh, engaging piece is what propels it along. We keep turning pages because we begin to care what happens to Blue, and Hannah, the enigmatic teacher who proctors the creative group along the way. But for all the throw-away culture and kids-playing-at-adulthood, we have a deathly story underneath, in which Hannah loses her life and Blue's Dad disappears the minute Blue figures it (almost all the way) out.

Ms. Pessl amazes with her multitudinous references, her deadpan delivery, and the reality of the angst her characters feel. This is a debut you should definitely pick up, and a career we should definitely follow.
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