Amy Suiter Clarke
reviewed by Fiona Cook
When a podcast host receives an unexpected tip about the killer at the center of the latest season of her investigative podcast, she thinks she just might have the lead to finally crack this cold case. But her meeting with the tipster goes awry, kicking off a chain of events that will lead much closer to home than she could ever have expected.
Girl, 11 is the debut novel from author Amy Suiter Clarke, and it’s an impressively strong beginning. The novel is occasionally broken up with episodes from Elle Castillo, lead character and podcast host, and they were some of my favorite parts of the book. The author has a real knack for writing an authentic voice, and it was easy to imagine Justice Delayed fitting right in to my current true-crime podcast rotation.
I appreciated a lot about this book. The recent rise in popularity of true crime media of all stripes has prompted plenty of conversations regarding all the various issues that come from talking about incidents that affect people’s lives still, regardless of how long ago they were – issues of language, focus and consideration. Girl, 11 is a book that is conscious of these issues, and not just for itself as a book, but for the podcast woven into its storyline. It’s not the first book to be aware of the fine line it’s walking, but it manages a better balance than many of the others I’ve read; preserving a real sense of suspense and mystery while respecting the real people behind the genre it’s a part of.
That sense of suspense and mystery, by the way, is a strong one. The crimes at the center of this book are chilling, and following the investigation was the kind of challenge that keeps me reading much longer into the night than perhaps I should be! Elle Castillo is surrounded by a very well-rounded cast of support characters, who all have a part to play; it makes a network of people into a team. She relies on each in their turn, which I love to see; it’s easier to connect to characters who find strength in their connections to other people.
This was a remarkably strong debut, one which entertained and kept me in suspense in equal measure. Amy Suiter Clarke is an author to be excited about, and one who I’ll certainly be watching.
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