Slowly and methodically, the tale unfolds of how two sisters spending the summer at their family cottage on the shore of the Connecticut River find themselves at the center of a murder investigation.
Fifteen-year-old Miranda has always walked in the shadow of her older sister, rising med student Lander, yet it is Miranda who shines here, as she alone musters the courage and determination to do what it takes to save her family. Interestingly, the story is told from two perspectives, both those of close third-person narrators. This clever technique allows just enough distance between story and readers to maintain the gauzy, unsettling haze that keeps the truth just out of sight. Unfortunately, the cast of characters feels slightly unbalanced, particularly when it comes to Miranda’s parents and other secondary characters, who are surprisingly underdeveloped given their ultimate roles. If readers can suspend disbelief just long enough to believe that a young teen like Miranda would be left on her own under such dangerous circumstances, they won’t regret going along for the ride. No one writes suspense like Cooney, and this novel will ensnare readers from Page 1 and keep them turning the pages until they, like the nameless young woman at the center of the opening chapter, know for certain who is dead and who is the killer.
Haunting, harrowing, and hard to put down. (Mystery. 13 & up)