Eight years after his conviction for raping coed Alison Cole, three weeks after his admission to Horizon House, the Boston pre-release facility Natalie Price runs, Dean Walsh is in major trouble again. Maggie Austin, the English prof whose creative-writing class had thrown her together with Walsh the budding poet, has been murdered, her body found in a state Alison Cole might have posed for. Det. Leo Coscarelli naturally takes Walsh, who has no alibi for Maggie's death, as his only suspect—but not for long, since author Title (Romeo
, 1996) has thoughtfully stocked the city to bursting with red herrings, from Walsh's jailhouse enemies to adventuresome Maggie's brace of lovers (she liked it rough, and not just with men) to Nat's own philandering husband Ethan. All is confusion till Walsh reclaims his place at the head of the queue by escaping from custody and vanishing just as Nat's relationship with Leo is getting interesting. From then on, despite the offstage manhunt for Walsh, the real story is open season on Nat, whose vicissitudes—she's attacked by a hit-and-run driver, slugged, and taken hostage repeatedly, and the house she once shared with Ethan torched—alternate with scenes of Leo's courtship and her enterprising attempts to make contact with Walsh on her own. The fadeout shows several malefactors brought to book but the romance still iffy.
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