HEARTSTOPPER opens with a page out of the killer's journal, in
which he describes in detail the girl he is about to murder. This
is enough to reel in readers, who will not be able to put the book
down until it's over. In the next chapter, high school English
teacher Sandy Crosbie has her students take out their journals and
asks a few of them to read a page out loud.
When Liana Martin doesn't show up for class and appears to have
vanished, friends as well as Sandy wonder if this is more than just
Liana skipping school. Sadly, her lifeless body soon turns up, and
fellow citizens think that a killer is on the loose. At the same
time, a girl goes missing in a neighboring town. Is this merely a
coincidence, or might there be a connection between the two
While all of this is going on, Sandy's husband has been having an
affair with the mother of one of her students, Delilah Franklin. A
quiet, overweight girl, Delilah is constantly taunted by classmates
and can never seem to fit in. Sandy tries her best to act
sympathetically towards Delilah, but it's difficult as she's
constantly reminded of her husband's indiscretions.
As it becomes evident that there may be a serial killer involved in
the brutal death of Liana Martin, the reader will be caught up in
all the individuals that reside in the town of Torrance, Florida,
as they try to piece together the mystery behind the murder. As
various characters are introduced and described, including many of
the students and at least one teacher, it's apparent that the
killer can be anyone.
I especially liked that there wasn't a lot of gore in this book,
although there was plenty of opportunity for author Joy Fielding to
go into detail concerning the heinous acts performed by the
murderer. Instead, she focuses on solving the crime, with
viewpoints changing between Delilah, Sandy and various other
characters, and the murderer (via his journal) to give perspective
on who possibly could be the culprit. As other bodies turn up, the
list of potential suspects is narrowed down, but it wasn't until
the very end that I was able to figure it all out.
I read HEARTSTOPPER in two days flat and had trouble putting it
down. Fielding's books always keep me on the edge of my seat, and
this one is no exception.
Reviewed by Marie Hashima Lofton (Ratmammy@lofton.org) on January 22, 2011