I first read Caroline Cooney when I started the Face on the Milk Carton series. I love the suspense she created in these books, and the ability she has to write books that appeal to a wide audience. If The Witness Lied is the latest Cooney book I have read, and while it may not be my favorite, the suspense that I remember from her first book is still in this one.
The family of four children in If The Witness Lied has been orphaned by their parents. First their mother died of cancer because she refused treatment until she gave birth to the fourth child she was pregnant with when diagnosed. Then just two short years later their father is crushed to death because Tristan, the two year old accidentally released the parking brake in his father's car while his dad was looking at something under the front wheel. Aunt Cheryl, the only witness to this horrible accident claims Tristan was responsible. For the first year everyone takes Cheryl at her word. While no one really likes Cheryl, she seems as though she is doing a good thing by taking care of the children. Finally when Cheryl decides to sign a contract to have a television show featuring the four children do the three oldest begin to question what really happened when their father died. Some surprising clues also help them question things.
I could find a few holes with how events played out and couldn't help but think that somehow the story seemed rather implausible. I always have to remind myself that I see these things as an adult and perhaps teen readers wouldn't have a problem with the story. Yet, I also think that we shouldn't underestimate our readers, either. I would be curious to know if teens also pick up on some of these holes in the story.
If The Witness Lied is suspenseful up until the end. I almost turned ahead just to make sure everything turned out alright. Readers will enjoy this book, flaws and all.