Review from the Midwest Book Review:
It is not often that I write about a woman who cut her first draft of a mystery at age eighteen, but it is true in the case of Therese Heckenkamp, a fellow Wisconsinite! Heckenkamp has already won numerous awards for writing at her young age and lives in Pewaukee, Wisconsin.
Robin Finley has just lost her mother, her home, and any family except an uncle in some small town in Wisconsin, where she is headed for an uncertain future. She meets two young men, almost right off the bat. One is a newspaper reporter, and the other is a “free spirit” who captures her imagination and desire for freedom. Then there is the matter of just what happened to her mother in this small town. She had a mysterious fall off of a balcony at a deserted mansion more than twenty years before. Robin begins to unravel the story of her mother’s high school years: the romances; the “fall”; her relationship with Robin’s quiet but caring uncle; and the map, which turns into the focal point of the story. Robin also overhears a conversation which leads her to believe she might be in danger:
“The words were spoken with such wrath, it hurt my ears to hear what little I did, but I had to stay and listen. What did this mean? I trembled in my hiding place. The very fact that these two guys-the only two guys I knew in this whole town-were together, alerted me that something was up…”
Being home-schooled, Heckenkamp probably understands something about the brilliant recluse. It shows in her writing. Her heroine is sensitive, angry, hurt, intelligent, stubborn, curious, and has a large heart underneath all of her confusion. She is a typical seventeen year old…Heckenkamp captures the angst of those years beautifully. Her plot is solid, and is very movie or television friendly…lots of action; pathos; conflict; glamour; etc. It’s all there, and Heckenkamp is a confident and sure writer. She has no trouble keeping all of her balls in the air and resolving them at the end of this page-turner with a flair. Her denouement is terrifying, exciting, and then whoosh…she brings in the romantic element with panache.
Past Suspicion is a terrific first mystery/novel from a very promising talent. It is a particularly compelling achievement considering Ms. Heckenkamp has her future ahead of her. Bravo!