9780871403407Reviewed by Krista Castner

Riddle me this Miss Riddle. What should you do when you’re 12 years-old and you have a very strong suspicion that a dramatic crime has just taken place in your neighbor’s stable? Should you tell your Dad, ‘Camp’, who is in the midst of running for the Wellfleet, MA, congressional seat? Remember, this is the liberal father who named you Riddle James Camperdown after Jimmy Hoffa after all. Would he help you solve the riddle and keep you safe? Should you tell your mother, Greer, the retired film star who delights in verbally sparring with your Dad and who keeps you at a distance?

That is the dilemma facing Riddle in the summer of 1972. She is pretty sure a murder just took place next door, but the menacing stable manager, Gula, has literally scared the pee out of her while warning her to keep her silence. The longer the silence is kept, the more dire the consequences become for all involved.

Elizabeth Kelly has written an intriguing novel. The Last Summer of the Camperdowns, is set in the old-money area of Cape Code, and features a wide variety of unusual characters. The drama ratchets up after the phenomenally wealthy Michael Devlin and his teenage sons, Harry and Charlie return to the area that Greer, Camp and Michael all grew up in together. The adult’s shared history goes way back and includes a stint in the army during WWII when Michael and Camp served in the same army unit together.

When Michael’s youngest son, Charlie goes missing Riddle is pretty sure she knows what happened to him but keeps her silence in the face of Gula’s terrorizing tactics. Tempers fray as the summer progresses and Camp’s campaign revs into high gear. The story is told from Riddle’s point-of-view twenty years after the summer of 1972. It accurately captures the confusion, fear and angst the 12 year-old Riddle feels as time goes on and the mystery of Charlie’s disappearance remains unsolved.

I liked that the author left the story open-ended. Several possible scenarios were proposed as to who was responsible for the final excruciating actions taken that summer. It was left to the reader to select the culprit that they felt best suited the story line. I have my theory about what actually transpired. I wonder if it will match your theory? I gave this book a solid 4 stars. It was witty and suspenseful.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Krista lives just outside the urban sprawl of Portland, Oregon. Lamentably, her work as a technical writer and business analyst often interferes with her reading which is a true passion.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Liveright. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.