Review by Kathryn Lively for Blether.com:
Weeks before her eighteenth birthday, Robin Finley loses her mother, and in turn everything she has known. As if the young orphan’s life were not already in a tailspin, she is handed over to the custody of an uncle she never knew existed, to a small town in Wisconsin she imagines nobody else knows exists, to wait out the days until she reaches adulthood.
Grudgingly accepting a job at Uncle Peter’s bookstore, Robin bides her time between Victoria Holt novels and counts the days to freedom. Having never dated back home in California, she is easily sidetracked by the sudden attentions of two young men. Unflappable Justin Landers, the local reporter, is interested in Robin from a newcomer’s standpoint; handsome Phillip Barnstrum with the flashy Mercedes has more romantic intentions – so Robin wants to believe.
Adjusting to her new surroundings, Robin absorbs the lingering memory of her mother, left in the house she once shared with her older brother. Having known so little about her life, Robin is shocked to learn of an accident that left the then Tiffany Hutch with temporary amnesia…and a secret that drove her away from her sleepy hometown – a secret involving a nearby mansion believed to be plagued by a curse and a mysterious man who had courted young Tiffany. The desire to know her mother better leads Robin to the mansion and local lore of hidden treasure and tragic heroines, suspicious of another mysterious man and worried history is doomed to be repeated.
Past Suspicion is billed as a suspense for young adult readers, yet Heckenkamp’s style would be welcome by older fans of thrillers as well. In Robin, Heckenkamp creates a believable heroine, frustrated with the direction her life is taking, clucking at the bad choices made in her mother’s young life (as read in Tiffany’s diary), yet making similar choices due to her naivete. The mystery behind the Kurselli Mansion and whether or not a treasure lies within provides the stimulus to escape the monotony of rural life, and concludes with an interesting twist. Past Suspicion is a remarkable debut with great voice.