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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Suspicion is a young adult coming-of-age mystery novel written by A. Neville. Joe was feeling lost and alienated as he watched his best friend, Seb, playing for Trenwith High in the Secondary Schools’ Football Cup quarter-final. It was important to Seb; his future as a professional football player rode on his performance being seen by the scouts. Joe hated football, and, since he had been expelled by the principal, he wasn’t even supposed to be on the school grounds. Principal Harry Bennett actually cared about him; Joe knew that, but he still felt unjustly treated for what seemed like relatively minor offenses. To make things even more awkward, Joe’s other best friend, Emily, was Bennett’s daughter. They had grown up together; she was like a sister even if his own disorderly household was in a totally different class than her own. Joe knew his future depended upon getting an education, but his parents weren’t all that concerned and even Principal Bennett’s efforts to get him reinstalled had failed. Watching as the other students got ready for the prom was particularly hard; he was now officially an outsider.
A. Neville’s young adult coming of age mystery novel, Suspicion, blends a compelling story about teenage alienation with a first-rate police procedural mystery as the police investigate the murder of a high school principal. I was enthralled by this book. Joe’s story is unique and unforgettable. His disadvantaged background and expulsion for smoking pot and other minor infractions, which seemed arbitrary and ultimately at cross-purposes with his future well-being, contrast with the person the reader gets to know through his story. A person who sees Emily as an unattainable goal, someone who would never stoop to be more than a friend. “He really liked her, not in a ‘Wow, she’s hot’ way, but somewhere in his bones, somewhere he couldn’t see but could feel that made him stronger, better, braver.” As I read that description, whole worlds of insights opened up for me into this boy who was turning into a man under harsh conditions, and his passage is made even more perilous when he’s accused of murdering Emily’s father. The police procedural aspects of this story are first-rate. You can feel the despair and fear Joe feels as he spends that first night in prison and fights both his fears and the officers’ persuasive techniques while asserting his right to counsel. Suspicion is a powerful and moving novel, and it’s most highly recommended.