Perception is Kim Harrington’s second mystery starring Clarity “Clare” Fern, a young girl who comes from a family of psychics. Clare’s special power is psychometry: she can touch an object and see scenes from its past.
In the first novel, Clarity, Clare used her ability to help solve a murder mystery. As Perception begins, that story’s aftereffects have turned Clare’s social life upside down. Once a social misfit, now she’s locally famous and unsure how to deal with the sudden fawning attention she’s getting from kids who once shunned her. She also has two boys vying for her heart, plus a rather creepy secret admirer. Her brother is acting strangely too. And if this weren’t enough, another mystery emerges: Sierra, a fellow student, has gone missing. Clare feels a responsibility to use her power to help people and becomes embroiled in the case.
The mystery is a really good one; Harrington scatters red herrings throughout the story, sending the reader’s brain off in many different directions, and when the solution is finally revealed, it makes perfect sense. I once read a guide to mystery writing that said, to paraphrase, that when the culprit is exposed the reader should first be surprised and then a moment later think, of course, it had to be! This is exactly the experience I had with Perception. Another well-done aspect is the way Clare deals with her love triangle. Rather than string either boy along, she takes a step back from both of them to sort out her own feelings.
I didn’t enjoy Perception quite as much as I did Clarity; to me there was a sense that Clare was driving events less than she did in the previous book, instead being moved along by events. This made Perception slightly less satisfying.
That said, it’s an enjoyable light mystery for YA readers, and I hope Harrington writes more in this series. In particular, I think there’s a lot of potential that could be explored regarding Clare’s father.
Clarity — (2011-2012) Young adult. Publisher: When you can see things others can’t, where do you look for the truth? This paranormal murder mystery will have teens reading on the edge of their seats. Clarity “Clare” Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It’s a gift. And a curse. When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare’s ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case — but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare’s brother — who has supernatural gifts of his own — becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?