The Perfect Candidate – Peter Stone – Simon & Schuster – Published 2 October 2018




When recent high school graduate Cameron Carter lands an internship with Congressman Billy Beck in Washington, DC, he thinks it is his ticket out of small town captivity. When he lacks connections and Beltway polish he makes up in smarts, and he soon finds a friend and mentor in fellow staffer Ariel Lancaster.

That is, until she winds up dead.

As rumors and accusations about her death fly around Capitol Hill, Cameron’s low profile makes him the perfect candidate for an FBI investigation that he wants no part of. Before he knows it—and with his family’s future at stake—he discovers DC’s darkest secrets as he races to expose a deadly conspiracy.

If it doesn’t get him killed first.

My thoughts

I am always on the lookout for new YA thrillers and The Perfect Candidate was, quite literally, the perfect candidate. In his debut, Peter Stone has created a thrilling and thoroughly enjoyable novel, with twists, tension, high-stakes investigations, humour and a touch of romance.

Cameron Carter has worked hard to land a top summer internship in Washington DC with up and coming Congressman Billy Beck. But when a fellow staff member dies, Cameron is drawn into the mystery surrounding her death. When an FBI agent recruits Cameron to do a bit of quiet digging in the office, Cameron puts himself, as well as his family’s future, in the line of fire. With some help from his roommates and fellow interns and (slightly more useful help) from his new girlfriend who happens to be the Mexican Ambassador’s daughter, this summer internship is proving to be far more interesting and dangerous than Cameron ever expected.

The Perfect Candidate combines buried secrets and dangerous people with a thrilling plot to uncover and exposed them.

Cameron is a highly likeable protagonist and narrator for this story. He is the perfect amount of self-depreciating and confident. He is funny, smart, determined and yet knows he doesn’t fit into the normal Washington DC society. He is at times awkward and bumbling, but also cares about what happened to Ariel, is quick to get the girl, and is oddly charming. He’s basically a lot of fun to hang out with. Cameron is at first reluctant to investigate what happened to Ariel and how the congressman might be involved, but quickly gets swept up in finding clues and exposing the bad guys.

There are not a lot of surprises with the way things unfold. While the plot line is fast-moving and there is never a dull moment, it is easy to pick up who the bad guys might be, but that’s not unexpected as the reader is right there alongside Cameron as he quickly uncovers the details of the crimes. He’s smart, so it’s okay to feel smart right alongside him. I did love that epilogue, though. Have to say that I did not see that coming and was very surprised. It makes me very eager for a sequel, one that is sure to ramp up the action and stakes even more.

Other things I loved about this story:
– Inclusion of romance, which is a nice and uncomplicated addition to the story, only adding to the plot and never detracting or distracting from the main investigation.
– Humour. There is a light-hearted tone to the novel, especially from Cameron’s sense of humour and insightful comments.
– The politics. I am brave enough to admit I don’t understand a lot about American politics (I’m not American, so it’s okay), but even though this book was set deeply in the world of politics, my lack of knowledge did not detract from or impact my enjoyment of the story in any way.
– Clean. With only vague references to a sex scandal, and a touch of violence (murder and all) The Perfect Candidate is a book I will enjoy promoting to teen readers of all ages.
– Boys and girls alike will enjoy Cameron’s voice and take on the story.

The Perfect Candidate is a thrilling book about conspiracies, mysteries, dirty secrets, and a young man who is smart enough to uncover them. I do hope there will be a sequel as the stage is set for an entertaining series.

The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.

More information

Category: Young adult fiction.

Genre: Mystery/thriller.

Themes: Politics, murder, romance, dating, relationships, FBI, secrets, campaigns, internships, Washington DC, mysteries, intrigue, conspiracy.

Reading age guide: Ages 12 and up.

Advisory: Vague references to a sex scandal, no details. Alcohol use and drunk driving. Murder and death, vague descriptions.

Published:  2 October 2018 by Simon & Schuster.

Format: Hardcover, ebook. 320 pages.

ISBN: 9781534422179

Find it on Goodreads