"An engrossing, suspenseful novel that is sure to keep the reader glued to the page." (Kirkus Reviews)
Cameron Miller is the son of a murderer. All he has ever known is the stench of the locked cellar, where he can hear the blows and cries and his father's torrent of terror and abuse. Then a miracle happens: his father is killed in a police shootout. In the aftermath, Cameron grabs his one chance for a normal life: he takes on the identity of Neil Lacey, a boy who Mr. Miller had abducted six years ago. As Neil, he has a life with loving parents, a brother and sister, and the comforts only money can buy. But someone knows what Cameron's doing—someone with the power to turn his life back into a nightmare.
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Elaine Marie Alphin lives out her dream job of writing for children and young adults, and speaking to them at schools and conferences. She is a winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Young Adult Mystery (Counterfeit Son), the ForeWard Book of the Year Award for Young Adult Fiction (The Perfect Shot), the Society of Midland Authors Children's Fiction Award and Young Hoosier Book Award (Ghost Soldier, also an Edgar Award nominee), the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award (Dinosaur Hunter), two Society of Children's Writers and Illustrators Magazine Merit Awards, and the Virginia State Reading Association Award (The Ghost Cadet).
Her fiction and nonfiction books for youngsters from beginning readers through teenagers have been selected for Bank Street College lists, TAYSHAS lists, VOYA Top Shelf lists, and 20 Children's Choice state award lists. She has written one book for adults: Creating Characters Kids Will Love. The Alphins live in Bozeman, Montana, and spend time in South Dakota and Wyoming. Get to know Elaine Marie Alphin better at her website: www.elainemariealphin.com.
In a kind of Talented Mr. Ripley with a brutal back-story and a more moral protagonist, Alphin (Toasters, 1998, etc.) mines the provocative field of identity, memory, and lies. Fourteen-year-old Cameron Miller had been the virtual slave of Pop, an evil man who got his jollies by torturing and killing young boys. Cameron, who is more intact, psychologically, than seems possible for a victim of such severe, long-term abuse, survived by being totally obedient. During his long hours of imprisonment in the basement, Cameron read and reread all of Pop's files, which detailed the lives and families of the various boys Pop murdered. A wealthy family of hobbyist sailors captured Cameron's imagination-"at first because of the sailboats" and "in the end, because of their money"-and after Pop is killed by the police, Cameron claims to be their missing son, Neil Lacey. The police are skeptical, but the senior Laceys are overjoyed and immediately accept him as theirs. Alphin convincingly delineates the ambivalence felt by Neil's siblings, and her portrayal of how Neil's disappearance and reappearance all but destroyed the family dynamic is first-rate. The novel bumps up the suspense a notch when one of Pop's criminal cronies shows up and threatens not only Cameron's newfound security but the safety of the other Lacey children as well. The resolution tries to have it both ways and the ending is more than a little improbable. Still, an engrossing, suspenseful novel that is sure to keep the reader glued to the page. (Fiction. YA) -- Copyright © 2000 Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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