From the author of an English mining-family saga and other domestic chronicles (Women and War, 1988; Inherit the Skies, 1990), all beefy with bad tidings and traumas, comes this mystery-romance set in the fashion-biz circles of New York, Paris, Italy, etc. Here, a family scandal and old passions are exhumed to solve a 20- year-old mystery involving two headline deaths. Harriet Varna, daughter of famed fashion-designer Hugo, last saw her ``top fashion model'' mother Paula when she was four—two decades ago. Then it was that gorgeous, lusty Paula had sailed away on a yacht belonging to ruthless financier Greg Martin, who also perished in an explosion aboard. Or did he? A certain hard-drinking lady in Italy says he's very much alive—news that stirs the insurance company, possibly bilked, as well as handsome p.i. Tom O'Neill, who begins the sleuth. Also vibrating are: Harriet, who wonders whether mother Paula, too, could be alive; Paula's sister Sally, now married to Hugo, and mother of illegitimate son Mark, who has a guilty secret; and Hugo, who glowers under a heavy conscience. Harriet, inevitably paired with Tom, also sleuths; Paula eventually spills some salient facts; Greg will be run to ground—and there's a new family member. Competent suspense, with routine romantic accouterments and a mere smidgen about the dress industry.
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