BOOK REVIEW: Beyond Suspicion by Catherine A. Winn

Shelby’s mum’s remarriage has been tough on the teenager. Her step-father is strict and a little over-bearing, so when he stops Shelby from going to a party she’s been looking forward to for weeks, she loses her temper. She doesn’t want to have to baby-sit her one-year-old brother, Josh, she wants to be a normal teenager and hang out with her friends. beyond-suspicion-by-catherine-a-winnKnowing it’s not his fault, Shelby takes Josh to the park, but when he disappears, the finger of suspicion is pointed at her. Shelby desperately pleads with the police to believe her when she says she saw two suspicious characters loitering in the neighbourhood, but they ignore her, and soon enough her friends and the media turn against her. The only thing Shelby can do is find her beloved brother herself, and so clear her name once and for all. As a teen title this is an engaging and high-paced thriller that serves as a good introduction to the genre. The story was captivating, but I had to suspend my disbelief in certain places for it to make sense. The characters, although charming were very two-dimensional, and it all concluded just a little too neatly for my liking. Shelby’s once mean and controlling step-father became a figure of support and friendship; her friends that so quickly abandoned her in her hour of need were just as quickly forgiven; the villains were caricatures that lacked any sense of real world terror, and met their comeuppance in just the way you might expect. We’ve seen some excellent young adult titles in recent years: Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games and Veronica Roth’s Divergent series gave us two strong female leads that crossed from the teen shelves to captivate adult audiences, but unfortunately Shelby just isn’t in the same league as Catniss and Tris. She lacks the depth and the contradictions that keep you coming back to see how their characters might develop. This is much more Sweet Valley High than Hunger Games but it would serve as a good stepping stone into crime fiction for younger teens that might be toying with the genre. Definitely one to avoid for adult readers and avid crime fiction fans, though! The first in the Whispering Springs series; I have to say I won’t be in a rush to read the rest.

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