Beyond Suspicion: A Whispering Springs Mystery is Catherine A. Winn’s debut novel, a young adult thriller, the first in a planned series. Overall it’s a good first effort but uneven. Winn does a great job with the sometimes difficult dynamics of blended families and the fickleness of teenagers, but her caricatured portrayal of the police and their overwrought dialogue falls short. On the other hand, Winn has the “tabloid mentality” national media frenzy, “like someone dumped chum in the ocean for sharks,” complete with a Nancy Grace–type talking head, pegged perfectly. Winn’s characters are believable and sympathetic, if not overly complex, and she deftly handles Shelby’s character development, not an easy feat with teenagers. Several shady types muddy the waters, well placed to keep you guessing as to the identity of the culprit(s).
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