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Counterfeit Son

Counterfeit Son

4.1 28
by Elaine Marie Alphin

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Cameron Miller is pretending to be someone he isn't. When he began presenting himself as Neil Lacey, it was the only way he could think of to distance himself from what Pop had done, to finally climb out of his nightmarish existence. He thought it would be easy--playing the rich kid, sailing his boat--but he didn't count on Cougar. Now Cougar, his father's old


Cameron Miller is pretending to be someone he isn't. When he began presenting himself as Neil Lacey, it was the only way he could think of to distance himself from what Pop had done, to finally climb out of his nightmarish existence. He thought it would be easy--playing the rich kid, sailing his boat--but he didn't count on Cougar. Now Cougar, his father's old accomplice, has tracked Cameron down and presented an ultimatum: Share the wealth or be exposed. Will Cameron give up his new identity to protect Neil's family? Or will he let his search for a new life destroy those around him?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
After suffering at his father s hands, as well as being locked in the cellar while his father beat to death more than 20 boys over the years, Cameron sees a chance at normal life by passing himself off as one of his fathers murder victims. PW wrote, Readers will be enthralled by the suspenseful plot. Ages 12-up. (July) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Cameron Miller's Pop locked him in the cellar while he beat to death the boys he kidnapped--more than 20 boys over the years and Cameron, too, has suffered at his father's hands. As this gripping novel opens, the police have finally raided his Tennessee home and fatally shot Pop. Cameron, seeing a chance at a normal life, decides to pass himself off as one of Pop's murder victims and claims he is Neil Lacey, missing for six years. Alphin (Tournament of Time) builds the pressure masterfully, describing Cameron's constant fear of being found out by the Laceys or the suspicious police detective. He chokes down Neil's favorite meals and fumbles for the answers to old family riddles, all the time observed by his hostile sister, who resents the effect that Neil's disappearance and rediscovery has had on their parents. The tensions accelerate to a fever pitch when Pop's accomplice Cougar shows up, threatening to unmask him if Cameron doesn't cooperate with Cougar's crimes. The author's treatment of each character's psychological wounds is also impressive, and she doesn't skirt the subject of DNA testing or other forensic refutation of Cameron's identity. Though Alphin races through the conflicts a little too quickly, she achieves a neat and happy ending; readers will be enthralled by her suspenseful plot. Ages 14-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature
This is a shocking book. It tells the story of Cameron, an adolescent boy who has endured the most horrid abuse possible: he has not only been sexually abused by his father, but has also had to live in silent fear as his father lured other young boys into their home, abused them, then killed them. Cameron is banished to the basement of the house most of the time while the unspeakable acts occur upstairs; however, this is not a place of refuge for it is where each of the young victims is buried. Cameron is forced to take care of this disposal chore. While he is in the basement, he stumbles upon his father's secret file cabinet containing collections of news articles about each victim. Cameron finds that one of the unfortunate children looks uncannily like himself, and is inspired to build a plan from this information. He memorizes everything about this child so that he can assume the new identity. When a police raid on the house ends in his father's death, Cameron is able to escape. He eventually turns himself into police, claiming he is a victim who survived. He is taken in by his new family, but not accepted by everyone. A suspicious police investigator and his new sister accuse him of fabricating his identity. Several surprising twists occur in the end. This is a story of horrible realities we hope our children never experience. 2000, Harcourt Inc., Ages 14 to 18, $17.00. Reviewer: Carol Lynch
Fourteen-year-old Cameron is the son of serial killer Hank Miller, who abducted and murdered more than twenty boys before dying in a shoot-out with the police. Cameron suffered the same sexual and physical abuse as Hank's victims but remained alive by obeying his father's orders to keep silent. After Hank's death, Cameron tells the police that he is Neil Lacey, a victim abducted by Hank six years earlier. With no physical evidence to discredit his story and with his intimate knowledge of Neil's wealthy family—gleaned from Hank's files on each victim—Cameron's lies are accepted. Although Neil's parents are overjoyed at their son's return, both Neil's younger sister, Diana, and the police detective in charge of the case are suspicious. Children's author Alphin has written a highly original novel that is remarkable for its outstanding descriptive narrative and brilliant emotional portrait of a troubled young victim. Cameron is terrified that his true identity will be discovered, consumed by guilt at deceiving the Laceys, and torn between relief at Hank's death and fear because Hank is no longer there to "protect" him. Having no memory of being treated well, Cameron is confused about whether Hank's abuse or the Lacey's kindness is normal, but he slowly begins to care for Neil's family and to heal. When one of Hank's former associates blackmails Cameron and abducts Neil's younger brother, Stevie, the truth about Cameron's identity comes out in a shocking plot twist that will leave readers thinking about this novel for days. Although the book is not graphic, references to sexual and physical abuse render it more appropriate for mature teen readers. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P J S (Betterthan most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2000, Harcourt, 192p, $17. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Leah J. Sparks

SOURCE: VOYA, October 2000 (Vol. 23, No. 4)

School Library Journal
Gr 8-10-A gripping but not altogether convincing psychological thriller. Cameron Miller's father was a serial killer who preyed on young boys; when he dies in a police shoot-out, Cameron takes on the identity of Neil Lacey, one of his father's victims who was abducted and supposedly murdered six years earlier. The Lacey family accepts "Neil" into their home with few questions, but he lives in fear that old dental records and a suspicious police officer will expose his lies. Finally, when someone from Cameron's past threatens his new family, the 14-year-old must decide whether to tell his "parents" the truth. The engaging premise will keep readers on the edge of their seats, though some of the plot points strain credibility. For example, the story depends on the fact that the parents refuse a DNA test to prove the boy's identity. The novel deals with the years of sexual and physical abuse that Cameron endured at the hands of his father, but only on a surface level and never in graphic detail. Many of the interactions between Cameron and his new family are quite moving, especially in the scenes where he expects punishment and finds kindness and love instead. Counterfeit Son ends with a clever twist that should surprise readers and leave them well satisfied with this solidly written, fast-paced read.-Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In a kind of Talented Mr. Ripley with a brutal back-story and a more moral protagonist, Alphin (Toasters, 1998, etc.) mines the provocative field of identity, memory, and lies. Fourteen-year-old Cameron Miller had been the virtual slave of Pop, an evil man who got his jollies by torturing and killing young boys. Cameron, who is more intact, psychologically, than seems possible for a victim of such severe, long-term abuse, survived by being totally obedient. During his long hours of imprisonment in the basement, Cameron read and reread all of Pop's files, which detailed the lives and families of the various boys Pop murdered. A wealthy family of hobbyist sailors captured Cameron's imagination-"at first because of the sailboats" and "in the end, because of their money"-and after Pop is killed by the police, Cameron claims to be their missing son, Neil Lacey. The police are skeptical, but the senior Laceys are overjoyed and immediately accept him as theirs. Alphin convincingly delineates the ambivalence felt by Neil's siblings, and her portrayal of how Neil's disappearance and reappearance all but destroyed the family dynamic is first-rate. The novel bumps up the suspense a notch when one of Pop's criminal cronies shows up and threatens not only Cameron's newfound security but the safety of the other Lacey children as well. The resolution tries to have it both ways and the ending is more than a little improbable. Still, an engrossing, suspenseful novel that is sure to keep the reader glued to the page. (Fiction. YA)

From the Publisher
Praise for Counterfeit Son

"An engrossing, suspenseful novel that is sure to keep the reader glued to the page."-Kirkus Reviews

"Readers will be enthralled by the suspenseful plot."-Publishers Weekly

"...a shocking plot twist that will leave readers thinking about this novel for days."-VOYA

"Counterfeit Son ends with a clever twist that should surprise readers and leave them well satisfied with this solidly written, fast-paced read."-School Library Journal

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Sales rank:
830L (what's this?)
File size:
118 KB
Age Range:
14 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
Praise for Counterfeit Son

"An engrossing, suspenseful novel that is sure to keep the reader glued to the page."—Kirkus Reviews

"Readers will be enthralled by the suspenseful plot."—Publishers Weekly

"...a shocking plot twist that will leave readers thinking about this novel for days."—VOYA

"Counterfeit Son ends with a clever twist that should surprise readers and leave them well satisfied with this solidly written, fast-paced read."—School Library Journal

Meet the Author

Elaine Marie Alphin is very active in the field of children's literature. She has written numerous books for young readers and more than two hundred articles for children's maagazines. Ms. Alphin lives in Madison, Indiana.

ELAINE MARIE ALPHIN (1955-2014) was the author of many acclaimed novels for teen readers, including Simon Says and Counterfeit Son, winner of the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery. She also wrote numerous books for younger readers and more than two hundred articles for children's magazines.

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Counterfeit Son 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
naurmohd More than 1 year ago
Ever since grad school, it's been difficult for me to read for pleasure or to finish a book in one sitting, something I used to do regularly. Until this book. I defy anyone to start this book and willingly leave one single page unread. This is a story about a desperate, sad young man who's been through a hell no one should know. And in that desperation, he makes a choice that he believes is morally wrong, and while you, reader, intellectually know that it's wrong, you want him to get away with it. You want him to succeed in his deception. Because, oddly, it seems as if everyone wins then. Warning- this book has some dark themes, as the main character has survived physical, sexual and mental abuse. But it is ultimately a story about survival, about healing, and about trying to move forward, and there is nothing graphic in the book, it is more hinted at than actually stated. So if you're just a little sensitive to those kinds of themes, you should be fine. And honestly, this book is not to be missed!
Flamingnet More than 1 year ago
As the son of a serial killer, Cameron Miller has had a very troubled life. Trapped in a cellar for days at a time, he reads the haunting newspaper clips of his father's victims, and sits trying not to listen to the muffled screams and inhaling the sickly sweet smell of death. His father's filing cabinet contains golden information; families that have lost their sons to his father, families that need a miracle of their son returning. When his father dies, Cameron decides to become Neil Lacey, a short and scrawny 14 year old with hazel eyes and brown hair. Cameron cons the authorities into thinking he is really Neil Lacey, and he must trick his new family with only the newspaper clippings to provide him with the information he needs. He soon realizes that living the life in a prim and fancy neighborhood on the coast isn't nearly as easy as it would seem to be. As he starts to settle into his new life, his bubble of protection is soon ruptured when his father's accomplice tracks him down. The accomplice threatens his new family and Cameron's secret unless Cameron steals valuable items from his new house. Will Cameron's identity be revealed? Can he manage to trick his rival? Is all hope lost for the Laceys? Counterfeit Son by Elaine Marie Alphin was spectacular. It was short but definitely not sweet. This harrowing yet incredibly written tale had the right amount of detail and expressed the woe of a teenage boy's experience that no one should ever have. The first few chapters were a bit confusing. However, once the plot was fully explained, I was stuck to the book. The characters came to life, and they were easy to relate to. This book has many, many unsuspectedtwists and turns, and an ending that will blow your mind. The end of the book is probably one of the biggest surprises that I have ever had. Counterfeit Son is fantastic, and I would recommend it to anyone (age 12 or older) who loves a good mystery. Some material (some frightening situations) and violence that may not be suitable without approval from an adult. Reviewed by a young adult student reviewer Flamingnet Book Reviews www.flamingnet.com
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Counterfeit Son is a interesting book about young boy who is the son of a serial killer named Hank Miller. When HAnk Miller is invoved ina shoot out and is killed then His son is left all alone. As years passed he watched his father molest and murder young boys now that there is no one to turn to he dosent know what to do. One idea comes to his mind and he remembers a boy by the name of Neil Lacey. His father had murdered him and he remembered his famiily and remembered that neil mentioned he had a sail boast. He alwaays wanted to get on a sail boat. He decided that since he wanted to get as far away as possible from his old life he would take Neil Lacey identity. He did this but detective simmons starte to get really suspicous about Cameron.He dosent know hat to do whether he should drop the act or live the perfect life that he ahs always dreamed of
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LoonyMoonyy More than 1 year ago
the character in this books goes through so much. and omg the ending is so good you have to read this book!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Counterfeit son was one of the best books ive ever read. normaly i would never choose a book like this. But im glad my english teacher made us read this book. the first couple chapters are a little disturbing. youll want to stop reading it but you just cant put the book down. every chapter has an important part to it. this book is full of suspense. i would definetley reccomend this book for any aged reader.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Book was awesome. It was honestly the best book I have ever read in my life. I really enjoyed it, and it was different from other books I've read before. It was very suspenseful. In the begining it was kind weird because it was saying all this stuff about a man raping little boys and I just wanted to stop there, but something told me to keep going, and Im very glad I did because every single page in this book was important to the story and was interesting. I would definitly read another book from this author. The ending was very different and very unexpected, I would have never thought that was going to happpen. I kind of pictured this book as a movie. Thats how wonderful the descriptions were. Throughout the whole book I was just saying to myself that this should be a movie. I Loved It. And I reccomend this book to anyone who enjoys suspense and anyone who would want to take a chance and read something totally different from books they've read before.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a great book. The book had many difficult problems for Cameron to get around without getting caught by the Lacey family or Detective Simmons. This is a book that will keep you reading until the last page.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this book was great. It kept me interested throughout the whole book. When I was told about this project, I wasnt looking forward to it at all I was actually pretty mad about it. I dont like to read at all,and never did, but this book was great. It kept me interested almost to the point where i didnt want to put the book down. In the end it turned out that this project was a privelidge, and I would deffinitly want to do it again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought that this book was really good. The ending was very surprising and it kept you on the edge of your seat. I also thought that kids could relate to this book because the events in the book could take place in real life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book Counterfeit Son was an exciting tale of suspence, mystery, and the struggle to find ones family. I enjoyed this book because it was suspenceful and I never got bored.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked this book because the situation that took place in this book could be a real life situation. This book was also a thriller and a mystery that's why I liked this book. Another reason why I liked this book was because people don't know what to expect. I thought the ending was a big surprise. I would recommend this book to teenagers and adults. I would say teenagers and adults because they are old enough to realize how bad people are out their and how deperate people could be.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although i don't read all the much, I found this book to be awesome! Counterfeit Son was full of suspense,and kept you wondering what was going to happen next.This book is about Cameron Miller a 15 year old with an abusive father, but his father is killed, and has the chance at a Real Life, with a real family so he takes it. Will he make it through through the end, or will he finally give up, and tell his heart-breaking secret? I highly reccomend that you read this book and find out for yourself, you will fall in love with this book and want to read it all over again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an awsome story with much thought put into it. I can honestly say that I was never bored once while reading this story. The book was filled with great description as well as action. If anyone enjoys reading mystery stories like I do, this is the book to read without a doubt!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was pretty slow. I only thought that the ending was great. If it wasn't for the end of the book, I wouldn't have liked it so much. I am not a big reader and if this story had more exciting parts, I could deffinatly see myself liking it. The ending of the story was completlely unexpected and that's what made it so good. I would have guessed anything to happen but what actually did.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was pretty good. I think the middle was a little boring and the end was good. It was somethin that I didn't expect.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book, The Counterfeit Son. It was full of suspense and excitement. I really enjoyed how the author wrote the book with a lot of detail. I actually felt like I was watching a movie in my head. My favorite part was the surprise ending. I was shocked and holding my breathe at the end of the book. The Counterfeit Son is a very good book that I would recommend.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I did like this book. I liked it because it was mysterious and left the reader wanting more. It was suspenseful and shocking. I liked it because of the fact that I never thought about kidnapping that much, and I realize how it happens today. Many kidnappings occur everyday and this book made me realize how tragic it is. It was a catching book and had my attention the whole time and I really think if you are looking for an interesting book i recommend you read this thrilling story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Counterfeit Son was a book filled with mucho suspense and always left my mind asking questions. I really enjoyed reading this book and I fill that other high school students would too. You can really relate to the events that happened. This book was very well written and had a lot of detail.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great book with a twist ending...