From the publisher—
Fifteen year old Shelby Palmer becomes a person of interest in the disappearance and kidnapping of her infant half-brother, Josh. After hours of questioning, an angry detective confronts her with a copy of her text messages and, to her horror, twists their meanings. He points out how she had a fight with her stepfather and hates him. She can’t stand babysitting her little brother so her stepfather will be sorry he made her miss a party. Then an hour after Shelby storms out of the house with the baby, Josh gets conveniently kidnapped.
Disbelieved about being stalked by a couple in a white van, hounded by national and local media on the street outside her home, and hated by the kids who she thought were friends, Shelby knows if Josh is to be rescued she’s going to have to do it. So begins Shelby’s race against time and a world that has turned against her. And yet she finds help along the way. There’s mysterious Matt, who says he wants to help, but doesn’t seem to want anyone to know it. And there’s Jess, who watches out for Shelby as, against the odds, she tracks down the kidnappers just as they are leaving town.
In the opening pages of Beyond Suspicion, we learn that Shelby is a typical high school girl, one you could find just about anywhere. She’s 15 and everything is ultra-important, especially the crush she has on Jace, a boy at school, and her very first boy-girl party, happening that night at Valerie’s house. Unfortunately, her mother and stepfather have other plans for Shelby’s evening, demanding that she stay home and look after her baby brother, Josh, while they go out. Before the night is over, Josh will vanish and Shelby will be accused of doing something terrible to get back at Roger and her mom; she’ll have to do whatever she can to get Josh back even if it means putting her own life in jeopardy.
I liked Shelby a lot and sympathized with her disenchantment with both Roger and her mom, particularly her mom who is so focused on Roger and Josh that she has pretty much pushed Shelby aside. She and Roger make it very clear that Shelby’s feelings matter little to them and it’s no wonder she can’t stand Roger considering his attitude towards her. Any teenager would have trouble coping and it’s harder for Shelby because her father, whom she was so close to, abandoned them to pursue his own interests.
I did find the actual plot to be something of a stretch of credulity. I don’t question the police initially believing that Shelby must be guilty and the media is unsurprising in its relentless hounding but she has the worst best friends ever. Her actions to get Josh back really aren’t all that realistic, though, nor is the reason behind the kidnapping. Still, this was a pleasant way to spend a few hours and Ms. Winn is an author I’d like to try again.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2015.
An Excerpt from Beyond Suspicion
“Just a bunch of idiots,” Shelby agreed. Now she’d never get Josh calmed down. But amazingly he wasn’t crying anymore. The jogger continued on up the hill toward the parking lot while she went back to Josh.
Shelby leaned over the stroller. It was empty. Even Brownie Bear and his blanket were gone. She stood up and frantically, heart racing, scanned the park. No one had a baby. She swept her gaze up and down the park again, then over to the parking lot. A white van was pulling out into the street. Her wide eyes watched it drive slowly past the baseball team and the soccer players before disappearing behind a row of live oaks. As Shelby screamed for help it registered in her terrified mind that she might never see Josh again.
About the Author
Catherine A. Winn, a former art and elementary school teacher, lives and writes in Texas. An avid reader of all types of mysteries from cozies to thrillers, she’s found writing them to be equally thrilling. She is currently working on her next Whispering Springs mystery.
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