The title of this book says it all. Suspect is a young adult novel that is full of mystery, suspense and a very unique romance. Ellen, the mother of a young child has gone missing and that young child is now seventeen-year-old Jen. Thank goodness for the letters and gifts her mother sent her through the years after abandoning the family. It’s the only maternal link she has. But when those letters stop coming, Jen grows used to their absence and settles down into life with her father. That is until her grandmother gets the bright idea that those letters never came from Ellen in the first place. They were a ruse by the person who knows exactly what happened to her—her murderer.
Grandma Kay owns the Shoenhaus, a Victorian Bed and Breakfast. She always holds an annual Mystery Weekend and this year, she’s going to take full advantage of it by inviting all those who are likely suspects in Ellen’s disappearance or have a high probability of remembering a significant piece of information. If she can concoct just the right scenario, someone may remember a clue that leads right to the killer.
Jen’s life has reached a stage of normal—somewhat. She doesn’t want to believe she has romantic feelings for a cousin—who’s not a blood relative, but still! She’s trying to talk herself out of that. Now, Grandma Kay wants her to believe her mother didn’t just run off, but was murdered? It’s going to be harder still if such a killer—if he or she even exists—has been in their midst all along and beloved by one and all.
Suspect is a short book at under 230 pages, but not a page is wasted. The author draws the reader right into story and starts the action immediately. There’s no dry backstory here. It is nicely woven into the body of the tale as it proceeds. Everyone is suspect, even the grandmother and the reader is drawn into looking for clues in each character’s actions and motives. I am not one for mystery novels particularly, but the quick pace of this story, never made it feel bogged down with endless detail or minutia. The story is sharp and lean; the writing is tight and focused.
A significant subplot deals with the romantic vibes between Jen and Mark, her “uncousin” as she calls him. They’re related by marriage, not by blood, but I thought it was a rather edgy plot twist. Their relationship has been as first cousins since they were babies and they did not know each other in any other capacity. Some readers may feel there’s a bit of an “ick” factor here, but it was intriguing never the less. It certainly makes an interesting topic for discussion.
Suspect is a quick and easy read that will satisfy lovers of mystery and suspense and even those who are not partial to the genre. The edgy romance component will capture the imagination of others who will certainly want to know how that played out!
I'm giving away my ARC of the story. If you'd like the opportunity to receive it, just leave a comment telling me what other YA book you've read that was a mystery (if you've read one of course) and what's your opinion of having romantic feelings for a relative that's not related by blood. Don't forget your email so you can be contacted if you win. That is all.
Giveaway ends Wednesday, March 9, 2011. It's open to residents of the US and Canada.