A debut novelist pushes most of the right buttons in this clever suspenser about revenge gone awry. At the age of four, Ellen Donelly sees her father murdered. Nightmares follow in a blighted childhood. When she's older, she begins to experience the steadily rising need for vengeance. In this she's joined by a powerful ally, her mother. Two killers, the police had said, but only Franklin Walker was ever arrested, tried, or convicted. Now, after 30 years, he's paroled—and disappears almost at once from view. With him at large, the women rededicate themselves and vow to track him down. Their intent—and they never shy from brutality—is to kill him, but not before they force him to reveal the identity of his accomplice. Unexpectedly, Ellen's mother dies. Ellen's resolve, however, remains intact. As unobtrusively as possible, she slips out of Dallas for L.A., where, according to the p.i. she's hired, Walker has gone to ground. All of this, incidentally (the years of inner turmoil, the renewed commitment), has been kept from her husband: at first, she simply wanted love and romance to be cocooned and thus protected; later, there were reasons not to trust him. So Pete knows only that she's vanished. Naturally, he tries to find her. And, of course, Ellen tries to find Walker (who turns out to be something other than the bloodthirsty beast of her terrible dreams). Soon enough, the missing murderer, understanding himself to be suddenly endangered, is thrust into pursuit of them all. The cast converges violently in a remote cabin near Santa Fe. There's shooting, death, and in the smoke-clearing aftermath, a neat resolution. Formula stuff by and large, but with some nicely engineered surprises to tingle the spine.
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