All Fall Down
Embassy Row #1
Scholastic Press, February 2015
Ally Carter, the New York Times bestselling author of the Gallagher Girls and Heist Society series, turns her hand to this young adult thriller, set in a foreign embassy. Combining the exotic setting with a mystery, the central character is Grace Blakely, a sixteen year old who saw her mother murdered several years ago. She is consumed by the idea that she will find the killer and make him pay for his crime. Considered “troubled” by her school and her family, Grace doesn’t want to be in Adria, a country on the Mediterranean Sea, but her father is a career Army Ranger and her brother is at West Point. She has nowhere else to go but to live with her grandfather, who is the ambassador to Adria.
On her second day at the embassy, she crashes into the Russian ambassador and gives him a bloody nose and black eye. Grace spends most of her time sneaking out of the embassy and exploring the neighborhood. She discovers secret underground passages between some of the embassies, and meets some of the teens who live in the other embassies. They party on the beach outside of the deserted Iranian embassy. There’s Noah, who lives at the Israeli embassy, his twin sister Lila, Rosie from Germany, and Megan, another American. Alexi, a Russian teenager who lives at the embassy next door, is keeping watch on Grace. He says her brother asked him to keep an eye on her, but Grace doesn’t like to be spied on.
When Grace attends a diplomatic ball at the palace, she sees the Scarred Man, the person she believes killed her mother. Her attempts to discover his identity put her in danger. Although Grace is no Jason Bourne, there’s a lot of action and intrigue, with teens as the stars in this thriller. The plot twists and turns and a surprise ending ties it all up nicely. This series should appeal to both teen and adult readers.
Reviewed by Susan Belsky, January 2016.