Warner Forever, Jun 2008, $6.99
In Mississippi, when Mr. McPherson, the stepfather of one of her son's friends Jordon Gray, dies on a camping trip, Buckeye Daily Herald reporter Maddy Wade is worried about the effect on her adopted teenage son Ethan. Attracted to former Philadelphian Maddy, Sheriff Gabe Wyatt wants to help the mother and son become part of the community, but he steps back when he realizes the victim was murdered during the campout.
The four boys who went with McPherson are the suspects. When one the foursome dies in what appears at first to be a tragic coincidental accident, some evidence surfaces that makes Ethan the prime person of interest. Maddy believes her son is innocent and determined to prove it while she wonders if Gabe will help or hang Ethan.
The key to this deep regional romantic mystery is that the homicide investigation (mostly amateur sleuth, but some police procedural) takes front and center over the romance. Thus Gabe and Maddy may be in love, but the murders intrude on their relationship as he finds increasingly growing proof that the wild northern teenage transplant is a dangerous hood while she believes her Ethan is innocent. Susan Crandall provides a strong suspense tale as bias pays a key role on how everyone including his adopted mom decides Ethan’s guilt or innocence.