Reviewed by Margot Davidson for

After the death of her mother, a young woman, Robin, must travel from her home in California to a small town in Wisconsin to live with an uncle she never knew existed. She is angry and determined to escape as soon as she turns eighteen, which will be very soon. Almost immediately upon her arrival mysterious things begin to happen. She moves into the room her mother lived in as a young woman and learns a lot about her mother by going through her things. Evidently her mother kept many other secrets, besides having a brother, from her.

Two men enter her life and she is attracted to one and repulsed by the other, yet they both seem to have an interest in her that goes beyond dating. As the story unfolds, Robin finds out that in the past her mother was involved in a life-threatening accident involving a story she was researching for the school paper. She had found a map to a treasure that was part of the history of the town. This incident is what caused her to leave town before Robin was born and to never tell Robin about her family there. The two men know the story of her mother and the treasure, and, the reader finds out, each other very well.

Robin begins to research her mother’s accident and the story she was working on. However, the more she discovers about the past, the more danger she herself is in. Still, she can’t seem to let it go until she learns the truth.

To tell anymore would give the mystery away. The story follows the formula of the old Victoria Holt romance mysteries where the heroine is attracted to the guy who seems good but turns out to be the bad guy. The true love is one she mistrusts or doesn’t understand. The author even uses the Victoria Holt novels as props in part of the plot. It seemed obvious to me as I read it, perhaps because I read all those Victoria Holt novels when I was younger, so I asked a high school girl in my parish to read Past Suspicion and here are her exact words, “It was great! It was kind of slow at the beginning, but it was well worth it!” Although I thought the formula was obvious, there were a few twists that I did not figure out, and that’s what you really want in a mystery story.

This is definitely a romance and not heavy reading, but completely morally acceptable. Even though the young woman seems rebellious, she seeks counsel from a priest and works to improve her relationship with her uncle. The romance part of the story is pretty much kept on an intellectual level.

Most impressively, Miss Heckencamp, wrote the draft of this story when she was eighteen. She captures the torn emotions of the main character and the rising sense of danger very adeptly. A high school girl who likes romances would enjoy this story very much.

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