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Suspect Hardcover – October 1, 2010
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From School Library Journal
Grade 6–9—Jen's mother disappeared when Jen was a toddler but Grandma Kay is convinced that Ellen was murdered. While working at her grandmother's bed-and-breakfast for the summer, 17-year-old Jen must play a part in the annual murder mystery weekend. However, she gets more than she bargained for as she comes to the realization that the plot is alarmingly similar to her mother's disappearance. Taking on the role of Ellen and playing the victim, Jen is surrounded by people from her mother's past. Through the course of the mystery, she begins to piece together clues about what really happened. The characters are likable enough but hardly memorable. The mystery, while somewhat interesting, is wrapped up much too neatly in the last few pages and is not much of a surprise. Still, the book has wholesome characters and an innocent love story.—Jessie Spalding, Tempe Public Library, AZ
(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
It’s “Mystery Weekend” at Grandma Kay’s elegant Schoenhaus, the bed and breakfast where Jen is working for the summer. Fourteen years have passed since her mother Ellen’s unexplained disappearance, and yet the campy weekend theatrics trigger painful plot comparisons and unanswered questions about Ellen’s plight. Does the intricate role-playing somehow mirror the true crime, if the disappearance was indeed crime related? Moreover, is the domineering Kay artfully directing the farce to try to expose clues and possible witnesses in the actual cold case? Jen labors under a heavy emotional burden as she confronts the loss of her mother and tries to sort out details relating to years of letters in the mail, supposedly from Ellen. Now, something else has just arrived as a gift—her mother’s ring. Mystery fans will root for Jen and speculate away as they try to figure out what really happened in this somewhat awkwardly structured coming-of-age-within-a-whodunit tale. Grades 7-10. --Anne OMalley
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Top Customer Reviews
Now working as a helper for the summer at her grandmother's bed and breakfast, Jen finds herself immersed in her grandmother's annual mystery weekend. This year the mystery revolves around the idea that someone killed her mother, which is shocking to Jen. Was her mom murdered or did she choose to leave? Before the weekend is over, Jen will have an answer that will forever change her life.
Though there were good clues in this whodunit mystery, but I had a hard time getting into the storyline and the various relationships. It felt more middle schoolish than high school.
I'll recommend it to readers ages 12-16, leaving it up to you to decide if you want to read it or not.
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.
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