The edge of the water by Elizabeth George

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The edge of nowhere bk 2. Hodder & Stoughton, 2014. ISBN 9781444720013.
(Age: 14+) Mystery. Thriller. Supernatural. The sequel to The edge of nowhere finds Becca hiding from her stepfather in a location in the woods which Seth her close friend has helped her find. She has to keep the hideaway secret from everyone she knows, including Derric the Ugandan orphan with whom she had formed a close relationship. Meantime strange things are happening on Whidbey Island, centred around a coal black seal named Nera that returns to the same place each year and a mute girl who has appeared on the island.
George has put together an intriguing mix of realistic crime and the supernatural in this gripping thriller. The first chapter, Cilla's World, introduces the reader to the strange girl, Cilla who reports:
'I don't speak. I only walk and point and observe. I get along by doing what I am told. But I fear things that other children don't fear' pg 3.
As would be expected from such an experienced author, George immediately gains the reader's attention and fear for the fate of the abandoned Cilla, and this suspense is kept up right to the final denouement in the closing chapters with the reader desperate to know the fate of the girl and the black seal.
The character development of several adults in the story and the clever dialogue all combine to make a well-rounded whole. Jen MacDaniels, introduced briefly in The edge of nowhere, a girl who hates Becca because she destroyed her friendship with Derric, is a main protagonist in this story. George brings to life the poverty that Jen faces every day, and her intense desire to make it into the All Island Girls Soccer team and a chance to leave the island. Teenage sexuality is a minor theme and is handled very well. Jen's relationship with Squat Cooper makes her think about her sexuality while the character of Derric too is developed as he works through his feelings for Courtney, the very popular teen.
While the mystery of the seal is resolved neatly, it is the combination of mysteries and secrets of many of the characters, both teen and adult, an environmental thread and the issues that face teens all the time that made this a very satisfying book to read.
Pat Pledger