I listened to All Fall Down by Ally Carter on audio last month, the first book in her Embassy Row series. It is a suspenseful teen/YA thriller with a unique setting and plot.
Grace has just moved into the U.S. Embassy in Adria (a fictional country) with her grandfather who is the U.S. Ambassador. She has visited there many summers of her childhood, but now she is moving there for good, while her army father is deployed and her older brother is off to college. Grace’s mother died three years ago, but no one is comfortable talking about her death. Grace was there when her mother died in a fire, and she is certain she saw her mother shot and murdered…but no one believes her. In fact, she spent time in a psychiatric institution because everyone thought she was delusional, due to extreme grief over losing her mother.
Grace is somewhat angry over this state of affairs, as you can imagine, and is still determined to find her mother’s murderer. She also has a long history of reckless behavior and accidents – broken bones, concussions, etc. – so everyone at the embassy is on edge, trying to keep her safe. Meanwhile, Grace is getting reacquainted with the kids she used to spend summers with on Embassy Row: Alexei, the Russian boy next door who is a friend of her brother’s and tasked by him to look out for Grace, and Megan, whom Grace played with as a child but with whom she feels she has nothing in common. There are also new teens on Embassy Row, including Noah, Grace’s self-proclaimed new best friend.
With this mix of kids between the ages of 12 and 16 from a wide range of nationalities, Grace is expected to fit in and take her proper place as the U.S. Ambassador’s grand-daughter, but she has a single-minded purpose of her own: to find her mother’s killer. This purpose takes Grace to some dangerous places and among some very dangerous people in this high-suspense, fast-paced story.
All Fall Down is a mystery and thriller set in a unique place, with a varied cast of characters. Readers get an inside view of the pomp and circumstance – and privilege – of the diplomatic lifestyle, while also rooting for Grace to stay safe and solve her mystery, even while almost everyone around her thinks she is crazy, or at least, delusional. There is also the ever-present chance that Grace’s secret investigation will cause an international incident. I really enjoyed listening to this intriguing thriller set in an exotic locale and look forward to the next book in the Embassy Row series.