The bestselling author of the Inspector Lynley crime novels turns to teens with this paranormal-series opener.
Fourteen-year-old Becca King finds herself stranded on Whidbey Island in Washington state, without family, friends or funds, and with an angry, murderous stepfather on her trail. Becca has the power to hear snippets of other people’s thoughts, which is both a blessing and a curse. She finds a place to live, makes a few friends and starts high school, while waiting for her mother, gone to British Columbia to establish a safe home for them, to return to pick her up. Becca immediately connects with Derric, an adopted Ugandan boy who is a popular athlete and the son of the local undersheriff. Derric is injured in a fall and remains in a coma for much of the story; a police investigation into who might have pushed Derric off his hiking trail ensues. The mystery is slight and unlikely, with few clues, and the investigation and Derric’s stay in the hospital drag on for too long. Derric’s ethnicity is frankly exoticized, with far too many references to the “handsome black boy” and “eyes as dark as the nighttime of his skin.”
Lacking vampires, werewolves and a compelling mystery, this will be of most interest to persistent readers of teen sagas set in the Pacific Northwest. (Paranormal mystery. 12 & up)