An abused Detroit girl with a history of pathological lying realizes her squeaky-clean adoptive father is the worst kind of bad news—but when she finally speaks out, nobody believes her. Really, though, the adoption doesn't sound quite kosher in the first place: the Lockwoods—Korean War historian Bonner, campaigning hard for dean of Madisonia College, and his pregnant wife, Maureen, who is a Caldecott-nominated children's author- -opening their suburban home to Dani McVie, a coke-head hooker's 13-year-old daughter. Even Vivian Clavell, Dani's caseworker, thinks the match is too good to be true. When Dani starts to notice that Bonner takes his young nieces off for some uncomfortable private sessions; when he starts leaving his locked study to spend extra time with her; when he touches her in ways that make her flash-back to life on the streets with her mother, Fay; and when he even acts suspiciously with his baby daughter, Whitney—well, even Dani doesn't believe the evidence at first. Her tutor recoils, as does Maureen, at the very suggestion: ``He had published two books and uncounted numbers of professional articles,'' unlike ``dirty old men in stained raincoats.'' So Dani, not knowing that Vivian is on the way to help, grabs baby Whitney and takes off in the middle of the party celebrating Bonner's deanship. She heads for a 14- year-old buddy exiled to a military school for getting on his father's nerves, but she runs instead right into Fay, who's come to spirit her off to Detroit on behalf of her menacing pimp. Since the plot is nothing more than an excuse for keeping the principals out of each others' way until the climax, there's nothing to do but watch everybody let Dani down—because of disbelief, lack of authority, or geographical distance—until Grice (The Cutting Hours, 1993) mercifully brings down the curtain.
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