Review by Ellen Gable for

Past Suspicion is an intriguing young adult thriller which tells the story of orphaned 17-year-old Robin Finley. Before her mother dies, she whispers, “Don’t trust anyone.”

Robin, a gifted artist, thinks that her mom has been too protective of her and continues to control her life even after she’s dead. Robin is forced to travel across the country from California to Wisconsin to live with an uncle she never knew existed. Unbeknownst to her uncle, she is planning to return to California as soon as she turns 18.

She settles (albeit temporarily) into her mother’s old room and soon meets two young men, a newspaper reporter (one she doesn’t trust) named Justin and exciting, handsome Philip.

Her uncle tells her about her mom’s accident and that she had suffered from amnesia. Robin then sets out on a quest to find out more about the accident and begins her own investigation. Discovering her mother’s diary hidden away in an old romance novel, she learns many new things about her: that her mom was a natural blonde (and not a brunette), that she was a gifted artist, and that she had a boyfriend named Christopher in high school. In the process of finding out more about her mom, Robin also learns more about herself.

Robin eventually stumbles upon another mystery regarding the accidental death of a woman at a local mansion in the 1800′s, and the particulars sound surprisingly similar to the accident which happened to her mother in the same mansion in 1979.

As we journey with her throughout the story (with many twists and turns in the plot) Robin finds herself torn between the two young men and unsure who to trust. As events happen and the plot builds to the climax, I was quickly turning pages to see what would happen next.

Heckenkamp is a solid, engaging writer who has created well-developed characters and interesting plot lines. This is impressive considering that she began writing this novel as a teenager, finishing it by the time she was 22. Catholicism was skillfully woven into the story; it wasn’t preachy or over the top.

I highly recommend this novel to anyone looking for an interesting, engaging read with a cast of well-defined characters. I look forward to the author’s future novels!

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