Another parboiled offering from the poster boy of southern gothic thrillers (Blood Memory, 2005, etc.).
Natchez, Miss., a town that has seen rosier days, is about to get kicked while it’s down. Kate Townsend, shining light of her senior class—valedictorian, gorgeous, a double state champion (tennis and swimming) with a full scholarship to Harvard—has drowned. Her death is being linked to a pillar of the community, the estimable, beloved Dr. Drew Elliot, a husband and father who is 23 years Kate’s senior. Among the locals most seriously affected is upright, unselfish Penn Cage, Drew’s lifelong friend. A former prosecutor now considering a run for mayor, he’s asked to represent Drew, who confesses to an affair with Kate, which will surely place him in the vanguard of suspects if her death turns out to be foul play. Penn is shaken and thinks fleetingly of distancing himself from a situation that is certainly messy and potentially ruinous. He knows Natchez, and he knows how quickly its citizens can turn if they feel betrayed. Drew, however, is loyal, and a good guy’s got to do what a good guy’s got to do. As Penn pursues an investigation on Drew’s behalf, he discovers things about his friend, about Kate, about his town and about himself that will darken his view of civic responsibility.
Lively scenes pop up here and there, but 500-plus pages will transmogrify most thrillers into a relentless march of predictable events.