Suspect by Kristin Wolden Nite
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Age Recommendation: 12+
Length: Full Length (224 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 suns
Reviewed by Aloe
This well-plotted whodunit will hook readers from the start and keep them reading until the surprising solution is revealed.
Seventeen-year-old Jen is scheduled to spend a thrilling summer helping Grandma Kay run the Schoenhaus, a Victorian bed and breakfast in the Missouri vineyards. But Grandma Kay’s plans include a lot more than housekeeping. She intends to solve a real mystery from the past involving the disappearance of a beautiful and accomplished young woman.
And the victim was Jen’s own mother.
Ellen disappeared without a trace when her daughter was still young. For years, Jen received holiday gifts in the mail and letters signed by her mother. But then the communication abruptly stopped. Now Grandma Kay is convinced the letters were forged and that her daughter-in-law was murdered.
The stage is set for an elaborate Mystery Weekend at the inn. Family members and friends—including Jen’s very recent ex-boyfriend, her old childhood crush and his insufferable girlfriend—assemble and are assigned roles to play. But as the drama unfolds, Jen makes an important off-stage discovery in the Schoenhaus library. Soon her worst suspicions are aroused: Could a member of her own close-knit family be responsible for her mother’s disappearance?
Jen’s mother left her when she was very young. No one knew where she went or why, but Jen wanted to believe she was still alive. After all, she still sent her letters and presents for a long time. She couldn’t be dead, could she?
Ms. Nite’s characters are very realistic. They have all the idiosyncrasies of people here in the real world - there are different beliefs about Ellen being missing, and Jen’s boyfriend has just broken up with her.
The author picks a unique setting for her mystery: Schoenhaus, a Victorian bed-and-breakfast that belongs to Jen’s grandmother. Then she adds one more fascinating component to the story: a Mystery Weekend with handpicked guests. This combination works very well and adds a sense of mystery woven within mystery because you can’t be sure who is just playing their part and who might very well be a killer. The romantic love interest in the book adds a little spice while you wonder just who Jen is going to choose.
The story moves well, keeps you reading and has a complex plot that doesn’t give away any answers until the very end. I enjoy reading mysteries that have a well thought out plot, and this one delivered. The clues are slow to come and you aren’t really sure what they are telling you. And when Jen plays the part of her mother on the mystery weekend, the suspense kicks up a notch. If her mother is dead, is the killer someone she knows? Is the killer there that night?
This well written mystery has a strong female character in Jen, and while it reads fast because it’s fun to read, you’ll be pleased you took the time to check it out. Let me know if you figure out the plot before the ending, because I sure didn’t.