Investigating the murder of the guidance counselor with whom she had had an instant rapport, sixteen-year-old Ashlyn Brennan discovers clues that suggest she was kidnapped at birth and has to defend her boyfriend from being pinned with the killing.
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Grade 6-9-With a theme similar to Caroline Cooney's The Face on the Milk Carton (Bantam, 1990), Deadly Deception is a suspenseful page-turner that preteens will relish. When popular high school counselor Judy Rothlis is killed, it's up to Ashlyn to not only clear her boyfriend, Drew, of the crime, but also to find the true killer. With a checkered past of abusive parents and drug rehabilitation, Drew is the prime suspect...and the last one to see Mrs. Rothlis alive. Searching for clues, Ashlyn uncovers devastating news about her own past when she finds a death certificate with her name on it. Unveiling this chilling web of lies and deceit leads her to the shocking revelation that she was kidnapped as a child. An unsolved murder, mistaken identity, a poisoning, and a cast of wealthy characters add up to a true winner for all mystery lovers. While some of the plot elements are predictable, a few of the twists are truly surprising. The narrative is a quick read, with believable dialogue. Characterization is uneven, but enough information is given to clue readers in on possible suspects and motives. Well-crafted and perfectly timed chapter endings lead anxious readers right to the next chapter's revelations. Haynes's writing may not rival Joan Lowery Nixon's, but her ability to capture readers' interests is keen. This is one whodunit YAs will be dying to read.
Sharon Korbeck, Milwaukee Public Library
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The author of the Fabulous Five series returns to the mystery genre with the story of Ashlyn Brennan, 16, only child of wealthy Florida parents whose frequent absences have resulted in her attachment to understanding high school guidance counselor Mrs. Rothlis. When Mrs. Rothlis is found murdered the evidence points to Ashlyn's troubled, drug-addicted boyfriend, Drew. The discovery of a death certificate with Ashlyn's name on it, hidden behind a keepsake left her by Mrs. Rothlis, causes her to change her focus to learning her own true identity, the motive for the murder, and the real killer. Readers will quickly guess that Ashlyn is actually Heather Rothlis, kidnapped daughter of the murdered woman, and also who the murderer is. While all this is engrossing, it's far too contrived. Drew's suggested schizophrenia is gratuitous and poorly developed; the villain is coldblooded and calculating beyond belief; and the attitude of Ashlyn/Heather's real grandparents is equally implausible. (Fiction. 12-16) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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